RAWALPINDI, April 15: The Lahore High Court here on Thursday banned excavation of coal and other mines within the radius of 600 yards from the roots of a hillock having Malot Fort and temples and sought a comprehensive report on the present condition of the ancient site.
Justice Ijaz Ahmed of the LHC?s Rawalpindi bench directed the representatives of department of mines and minerals, archeology and environmental protection agency to make sure that preservation steps should be taken for Malot fort.
The court also directed the petitioner, high court bar association president and representatives of the respective departments to visit the historic sites facing extinction and submit a report about the present condition in the court till May 5 when the case would be taken up again.
Making both federal and provincial governments through respective departments as respondents, Advocate Qausain Faisal Mufti in a pro bono publico (public interest litigation) petition sought the conservation of Malot and Katas, two historical and architectural sites in district Chakwal.
The petitioner claiming to be an art and architect lover maintained that less known Malot Fort and adjacent temples located 15-km off Kalar Kahar in the east were constructed in 980 AD by Hindu Raja Malot. The fort survived with only a temple and gateway in the Kashmirian style of architecture. They are built of coarse sandstone of various shades of ochreous red and yellow and many parts have suffered severely form the action of the weather, the petitioner maintained.
He said though the Katas Fort located near Choha Saidan Shah in salt range would be looked after by federal government and later its care was handed over to the Punjab government but no efforts were made to preserve the beauty of Malot Fort and its architecture.
The petitioner said a visit to the site revealed that continuous excavation of mines and minerals from the area had put the Malot site in danger as it was located at hill top.
On the other hand presence of three cement factories in the surrounding areas have been polluting the area damaging the architecture of the Malot structure and it is feared that if government does not intervene it will be destroyed.
The petitioner prayed to the court to direct the respondents to preserve the sites. He also urged the court to direct the departments concerned to cancel the contracts and leases awarded to both public and private sector companies for excavating mines and minerals from the area.