The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has sought the intervention of the chief justice of the Supreme Court to protect an old Hindu temple in Karachi that is threatened by the construction of underpasses and flyovers at Clifton.
According to a statement on Friday, in a letter sent to the chief justice, the HRCP chairperson Ms Zohra Yusuf noted that business interests in complicity with officials of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) had started construction of multiple flyovers and underpasses around the Clifton seafront without any prior notice. She said that such a major venture which would vandalize the very face of a historical part of the city, has not undergone the Environmental Impact Assessment (with public hearings) mandated by law. The HRCP was concerned over the adverse impact that this project could have on the more than 150- year- old Sri Ratneswar Mahadev temple located in a cavern within a few meters of one of the underpasses which is visited by thousands of Hindu and Sikh devotees.
"Ground vibrations from excavation and from the eventual high-density traffic running so close to the temple could cause this irreplaceable place of worship to collapse," she is quoted as saying in the statement. The Hindu community in Sindh had been experiencing escalating human rights violations over the past few years. "The Laxmi Narayan Mandir, located at Native Jetty, near the Jinnah Bridge on M. A. Jinnah Road, had its access, privacy and environs severely affected a few years ago by another commercial project, Port Grand," she said.
The letter called upon the chief justice to summon KMC officials to explain the matter and ensure that all necessary steps were taken to protect the temple.