Sindh govt to reconstruct 150-year-old Marie Mata Temple on its site, PA told

Minority affairs minister says demolition of any place of worship is not permissible

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Tuesday was informed that the provincial government would rehabilitate and reconstruct the 150-year-old Marie Mata Temple in Soldier Bazaar.

Around eight years ago, in order to renovate the temple deities were moved to a nearby room on a storm water drain. However, last week the structure on the temple’s plot was demolished allegedly by a builder who wanted to construct a plaza there.

Furnishing a statement and replies to lawmakers’ written and verbal queries during Question Hour, Minority Affairs Minister Giyan Chand Essarani said that demolition of any temple was not permissible, and all such activities and construction work on the site of the 150-year-old temple had been halted.

“A team of the minority affairs department will conduct a survey of the site to prepare a report,” he said, adding that the department would reconstruct the temple on its site.

He said the woman residing on the premises claimed that her ancestors had donated their land for the construction of the temple and now she was raising her house on the site.

‘Flood-hit worship places being rehabilitated’

The minister informed the house that over 100 schemes had been incorporated in the budget for the rehabilitation of the minorities’ worship places damaged during the recent floods across the province.

Answering a question, he said that as many as 28 schemes for minority communities had been included in the budget for Umerkot as it was one of the most affected districts in floods.

He said that 40 schemes for the worship places of minorities were included for Karachi division, 28 for Mirpurkhas and 29 for Khairpur.

The minister said that almost 80 per cent schemes of the minority affairs department had been completed. “The department’s priority is to construct boundary walls around the graveyards of the minority communities,” he added.

He said the department was going to establish a hostel in Karachi for the girls belonging to minorities. “Such hostels would be established in all divisions of the province,” he added.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) Rana Ansar asked the minister as to what steps were being taken for the repair of a 150-year-old Hindu temple in Umerkot.

“The temple is in a dilapidated condition and needs attention of the government,” she said.

The minister replied that the provincial government was already taking measures to uplift the worship places of minorities across the province. “Solar systems have also been installed in many temples across Sindh,” he added.

In reply to another verbal question by Grand Democratic Alliance’s Arif Mustafa Jatoi, the minister said that 90pc of the minority affairs department’s budget had been spent during the last fiscal year.

In reply to a supplementary question, Minister Essarani said that the department was also going to give scholarships to deserving students belonging to minorities through a Rs37.5m project.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2023

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