Sixteen archaeological sites, 11 in Taxila and five in Hazara Division, have gone to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Department of Museum and Archaeology. The department formally took charge on Wednesday.
The provincial department has taken over the property rights of 57 sites in K-P so far, against a list of 90 sites handed over by the Federal Archaeology Department. Official sources said that the remaining sites have been either encroached upon, or are under the control of security agencies.
It has been reported that the federal government had written to the K-P government to take over 90 archaeological sites, including the Swat Museum and the Buddhist sites, previously under the control of Taxila Museum.
The archaeological sites in Taxila that have gone to the K-P department are: Jandial Stupa, Jinan Wali Dheri, Badalpur Stupa, Buddhist Monastery of 300 BC (commonly known as Jaulian University), Tofkian Stupa, Mirpur Mound, Sirsukh, Piplian, Chiti, Bhirnmound and Bhamala Stupa.
Other sites given to department include Government High School for Boys in Mansehra, Zardheri archaeological site, Ashoka Rocks and others.
Archaeological sites in Abbottabad, Swabi, Mardan, Bannu and DI Khan have also been taken over by the provincial government, including the ruins of Takht-i-Bahi in Mardan and the Swat Museum that are enlisted in the World Heritage List of Unesco.
K-P Archaeology Director Nidaullah Sehrai said the department had formally taken over 57 sites in the province after proper verification by a team comprising officials of federal and provincial department and officials of the revenue department.
He also confirmed the transfer of over 100 employees to the provincial department, who were previously taking care of the sites under the federal government.
He added that around 40 archaeological sites have disappeared due to encroachments and improper maintenance, while some of them are situated in areas under the control of security agencies.
Regarding the transfer of sites still under the control of Taxila Museum, Sehrai said he would take up the matter with the museum’s authorities and request them to either transfer them to the department, or pay the income generated from the sites.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2011.