civic 96-00's power steering pump is compatible with the 01-06 models. And it costs around 2.5k from bilal ganj, thats almost half as much as the latter models pumps.
So many ppl tend to replace their power pumps with the cheaper variant.
It doesn't work for long though..and is harder.
You should check the power pump of the mentioned civic...if it resembles your 97's power pump, then you've found the reason for the hard steering.