Heritage preservation: Construction work on Haripur Museum hits snag

School being built on 4.5 kanals allocated for museum; minister claims project will resume soon.

Muhammad Sadaqat September 04, 2011


The Haripur Museum of Archeology and Ethnology project is in limbo after the Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) failed to turn over a piece of land that was donated to Hazara University for the construction of the Museum.

The late Haripur Tehsil nazim Iftikhar Ahmed Khan issued a notification for the allocation of  4.5 kanals of land near Harkishangarh Fort on March 10, 2008 to Hazara University for the construction of the museum. The land had been approved under a Tehsil Council resolution on January 31 earlier in the same year.

The university administration had allocated Rs500,000 to build a boundary wall which was expected to be completed within two years, sources said. However, according to the Haripur Museum Assistant Director Shakirullah Khan, the Tehsil Municipal Officer violated the notification issued by his predecessor, along with the Tehsil Council’s resolution, by verbally asked the University administration to stop construction on the project soon after it began.

It was on Provincial Education Minister Qazi Muhammad Asad’s directions that work on the museum was suspended and a school is now being built at the site. When the minister was approached about the matter, he assured that the provincial government was looking for a suitable site for the museum and would resume construction as soon as one was found.

The TMA asked the university administration to get Asad’s consent to resume construction. According to Khan, university officials had met the minister and apprised him of the museum’s objectives and importance.

The Haripur Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology was to be established with the financial support of Hazara University. Its aim was to preserve antiquities from different civilizations like Gandhara and prehistoric civilizations that were discovered within the territorial jurisdiction of Haripur but are housed in Peshawar and Taxila museums. There are over 207 discovered sites in Haripur alone.

Hazara University sources revealed that the proposed museum was to be linked with all the monuments and archaeological sites in Haripur District, including Harkishangarh Fort, which was built by General Hari Singh Nalva in 1822.

For the protection and preservation of the fort, former Hazara University VC Dr Ehsan Ali Khan and current VC Dr Sakhawat Shah had taken up the matter with the provincial Archaeology Department. They had sought the department’s help to declare the fort a ‘protected monument’, as it is currently being used by the police, revenue and district accounts office administration.

Following the devolution of the Ministry of Archaeology to the provinces, the K-P Department of Archaeology and Museums have recently taken over about a dozen archaeological sites including some important ones that were previously under the control of the Taxila Museum.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2011.