|28 February 2009
The plunder of Mohenjodaro continues
Pakistani authorities appear to be very slow in preventing the theft of precious artefacts from the Mohenjodaro site, according to an official document. Mohenjodaro (Mound of the Dead) was one of the largest city-settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization of south Asia situated in the province of Sind, Pakistan. Built around 2600 BCE and abandoned around 1900 BCE, the city was one of the early urban settlements in the world. A revised master plan for conservation and promotion of cultural tourism at Mohenjodaro awaits the federal government's nod. But the ancient site, falling under the federal government's jurisdiction, is regrettably facing a double whammy: non-stop pillage of antiques and severe seepage and damage, reveals the recent document.
Major features of the revised master plan are archaeological conservation, acquisition of land, further excavation and conservation, landscaping and environment development, a tourism monument plan and an interpretation system. The ministry of culture had rejected the original plan requiring funds worth Rs6,500 million in five years for the development of the site, with instructions to officials at the site to bring it down to one-third.
The Antiquity Act of 1975, which provides for protection of and legal cover to archaeological and historical sites, is not being implemented, as far as the world's one of the oldest civilisations at Mohenjodaro is concerned, the officials explained. "While the law states that no trespassing can be done within 200 meters around a monument, in practice there is trespassing in the surroundings of most of the monuments," reads the revised master plan, prepared by Mohenjodaro officials working at the site and provincial authorities at Sindh.
The document links non-implementation of laws and paucity of funds to the stealing and smuggling of precious artefacts and relics to other countries. At first, the Prime Minister Secretariat promoted the preparation of a comprehensive master plan that may be pursued by the ministry of culture. But despite its presentation and revision, everything is now standing still. The new plan emphasizes promotion of cultural tourism and also envisages milestones such as building a world-call management scheme in the Pakistan expert advisory committee, which is committed to the success and funding of the Mohenjodaro development works.
Source: The News International (24 February 2009)
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