Sindh: Govt Receives 130 Archaeological Sites
The federal government has handed over 130 listed archaeological sites in Sindh, excluding Moenjodaro, to the Sindh government and issued a notification in this regard, Sindh Minister for Culture and Tourism Sassui Palejo said on Thursday [5 March 2009]. She was addressing a press conference along with Chief Secretary Fazlur Rehman, Secretary Culture and Tourism Shams Jaffrani and Kalim Lashari.
The minister pointed out that in other countries, archaeology was a subject handled at the local level but here it is contrary. She said that these 130 were the sites which were listed with the federal government. However this listing was very limited and still there were many more sites which were not listed and existed in the tribal and Thar areas as well as lower and upper Sindh.
Palejo said that Sindh had always demanded handing over listed sites to the Sindh government more in view of the fact that these were in poor condition with no proper maintenance. She said it was ridiculous that the federal government’s budget for maintenance of these 130 sites stood at only Rs0.85 million annually. During the Premiership of Jamali, the Lahore Fort was handed over to the Punjab government at their request while no action was taken on the demand made by the Sindh government.
The minister said that now when these sites had been handed over to our province, the Sindh government would carry out legislation as to the preservation and maintenance of these sites.
She said that draft of the legislation had almost been prepared and would soon be sent to the law department for vetting. She said that while this notification had been issued, a very challenging task will begin for the Sindh government.
Palejo pointed out that since it is a specialised field, the Sindh government will have a separate department for this purpose.
Sindh Chief Secretary Fazlur Rehman said that archaeological sites would be administered, conserved and preserved by the newly-created antiquity department as its executive arm in SNG&AD and will be headed by Kaleem Lashari.
He said that since SNG&AD is with the chief minister he would also be the minister of the antiquity department.
Palejo said that now long, mid and short-term projects would be prepared for conservation and preservation of Sindh’s archaeological sites and other sites such as Runni Kot, Lakhan Jo Daro, Khuda Bux Mosque, Mir’s tombs, Shahi Masjid Thatta etc.
Sindh Secretary for Culture and Tourism Shams Jaffrani said that the department had a number of development schemes which could not be executed, including the Rs198 million scheme for historic Runni Kot. He said these schemes would now be revised and implemented.
Antiquity Department Secretary Kaleem Lashari said that the Moenjodaro Development Authority stood disbanded after it completed its 25 years mandate and now the National Fund Board was looking after the Moenjodaro site. Palejo said that only 10 per cent of this internationally recognised site had been excavated and 90 per cent remained to be excavated.
The CS said that the staff for the newly-created antiquity department would be recruited through the Public Service Commission. Jaffrani said that complaints about Chowkundi graveyard, Mir’s tombs, Lakhan Jo Daro had been communicated to the archaeological ministry but now since these sites had been transferred to the Sindh government, inquiries will now be conducted by the antiquity department.
Palejo said that survey of unlisted archaeological sites would be started shortly and so would the survey of the Makli graveyard.