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, threatened by the construction of underpasses and flyovers at Clifton.

According to a statement on Friday, in a letter sent to the Chief Justice, HRCP chairperson Zohra Yusuf noted that business interests, in complicity with officials of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), had started the construction of multiple flyovers and underpasses around the Clifton seafront without any prior notice.

She said that such a major venture, which would vandalise the very face of a historical part of the city, had not undergone the Environmental Impact Assessment (with public hearings) mandated by the law. The HRCP was concerned over the adverse impact this project could have on the more than 150-year-old Sri Ratneswar Mahadev temple located in a cavern within a few metres of one of the underpasses. The temple is visited by thousands of Hindu and Sikh devotees.

“Ground vibrations from excavation and from the eventual high-density traffic 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.

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