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SUSTAINABLE GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT IN ROLLING TERRAIN AROUND THE SACRED KATAS RAJ TEMPLES, SALT RANGE, PAKISTAN UNDER CLIMATE CHANGE AND INDUSTRIAL STRESS
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  • Muhammad Hasan,
  • Noor Khan,
  • Habib Rehman,
  • Shahid Ali
Muhammad Hasan
Mines & Minerals Department
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Noor Khan
University of Engineering and Technology
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Habib Rehman
University of Engineering and Technology
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Shahid Ali
National University of Computer & Emerging Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan
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Abstract

Ancient Katas Raj Temples, the legacy for humanity, is inscribed in the UNESCO world heritage tentative list. The most vital object related to this valuable heritage is the sacred natural water pond located amidst the temples of “Katas” in Pakistan. Hindus believe that the pond was originated by the tear shed of Lord Shiva on the death of his wife some 4,000 years ago. The water pond is currently threatened due to the lowering of the water table caused by the over-abstraction of groundwater for agriculture, domestic and industrial usage in the last decade, arising to the Hindu community’s distress. Therefore, sustainable groundwater management is paramount to safeguard the pond. This study thus applied the Visual MODFLOW model using topographical, metrological, and hydrological data of the region to forecast the groundwater fluctuation in the next 10 years (2021-2030) based on the current abstraction scenario and anticipated scenarios, besides the application of Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) methods. The results of mass balance and groundwater depletion depict that the current abstraction rate is 40% more than the natural recharge which is not sustainable, resulting in an average drawdown of 0.50 m/year around the sacred Katas Raj Temples. The expected future economic development & agricultural growth predicted even the worst scenario. The open surface ponding was found to be an optimal method of MAR that overcomes 60% of the water budget deficit. Based on the results of the study, a sustainable water management plan has been recommended for groundwater resource development of the area to rehabilitate the pond.