June 17, 2014
Jyeshtha Krushna Paksha Panchami-Shashthi, Kaliyug Varsha 5116
Water supply problems persist as no bids were received against tenders. PHOTO: FILE
ISLAMABAD: With his back arched forward and neck pulling back, a young boy exhibiting an uneasy posture was balancing an enormous water can while pacing towards Krishna Mandir in Rawalpindi.
Snaking through cluttered old architecture, Krishna Mandir, a small, four marla structure, was established in 1897. The temple was handed over to Hindus in 1949 and in 1970 along with other shrines. The responsibility of its maintenance was given to the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) in early 70s.
Much like residents in surrounding areas who face water scarcity, the temple management also struggles to arrange water for the temple to facilitate worshipers.
The two-storey Krishna Mandir, nestled in a bustling market in Rawalpindi, welcomes worshipers with a small cage-like gate and a guard. As the only place of worship for more than 3,000 Hindus in the twin cities, the temple management always struggles to fulfill the water requirement for regular worshipers.
In October 2012, the ETPB made an allocation of Rs500,000 for the rehabilitation of the temple, but, the funds never came through. The allocation was meant for boring a well for regular supply of water, but, two years on, no work could be initiated.
“There is nothing extravagant about this temple. It’s a humble building with minimal visual appeal. Our demand is to have some basic amenities such as water,” Pakistan Hindu-Sikh Social Welfare Council President Jagmohan Kumar Arora told The Express Tribune.
He said that there were no set timings for water supply, and the wait can be as long as two to three days.
“We store water, not knowing when will be blessed with it again,” said Arora.
ETPB Shrines Deputy Secretary Azhar Sulehri said funds have been allocated for renovation and repair of shrines across Pakistan. He said that while renovations were done regularly, minorities were also given funds on special occasions such as Diwali and Holi for the maintenance work.
While acknowledging the problems at the temple, Sulheri said a tender for the project was advertised thrice, but got no response. He said that according to the law, if a project did not get a response against the tender, then the government can move to take it on with special instructions.
He said the ETPB chairman recently approved a water boring project for the temple and work on the project will begin in a few months.
At the same time, Arora said that while sending in regular requests for a follow-up, government teams occasionally turns up at the temple with assurance that the requests will be entertained. “It’s been two years and nothing has been done.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2014.