Local govts’ apathy leaves heritage sites vulnerable
KARACHI, Aug 15: The officials of the Archaeology Department’s Southern Circle have complained to the senior authorities about lack of cooperation from the respective district governments vis-Ã -vis action for the removal of encroachments from protected heritage sites.
The Southern Circle had received directives from the senior authorities in Islamabad asking them to identify encroachments on all the protected sites in Sindh and take action for their removal in compliance with the orders passed by the Human Rights Cell, Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Referring to the Supreme Court’s orders, the Southern Circle’s office in Karachi informed the director-general, Archaeology and Museums Department, that they approached the Sindh chief secretary with the request to direct the district officers concerned for compliance with the SC’s order to remove encroachments from the protected archaeological sites in Sindh.
In response, officials said, the chief secretary’s office directed the DCOs of Karachi, Hyderabad, Larkana, Khairpur, Sukkur, Thatta, Dadu, Sanghar, Qambar-Shahdadkot and Tharparkar for the removal of encroachments from the protected sites in their respective areas.
Officials said the deputy-director, sub-regional office, Hyderabad, reported that he had approached the district nazims, DCOs and other senior officials concerned of Hyderabad, Umerkot, Sanghar and Khairpur with the request to take action against the encroachers but no action had been taken so far.
Similarly, the field officers and curators of archaeological museums of Moenjodaro, Makli, Bhambore and Umerkot have reported to the office in Karachi that they had approached their respective district nazims and other officials to help them remove encroachments, but in vain.
Lately, the archaeology department’s efforts to dislodge encroachers from Moenjodaro went in vain when the revenue department refused its officials’ request for help in removing encroachers from the world heritage site.
The curator of the Moenjodaro museum had issued notices a couple of months ago to 15 individuals who had raised illegal structures and seven growers who had started cultivating the land within the vicinity of the heritage site, protected under the Antiquities Act, 1975.
However, the Larkana district administration gave little response even in carrying out demarcation of the ancient city, spread over some 555 acres.
Sources said the officials of the archaeology department were facing similar difficulties in other districts where huge archaeological treasures are left up for grabs.
However, the official sources said they were repeatedly approaching the district authorities concerned to do the needful as the department was continuously receiving reminders for compliance with the apex court’s order.