KARACHI: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has withdrawn its warning about putting the Makli necropolis, a world heritage site, on its list of ‘endangered’ sites, claimed the culture ministry of Sindh in a statement on Wednesday, 12 July. The site was likely to be declared ‘endangered’ by UNESCO with reports about the historical necropolis crumbling fast. The original February deadline, however, was extended after active efforts to protect the site by the provincial government.
The Ministry said that the Sindh Culture Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah attended the Unesco World Heritage Committee’s 41st session at Krakow, Poland, the ministry and presented a master plan to the participants to assure them that all their fears about the site had been taken care of in the arrangement.
At the last year UNESCO conference in Turkey, the then Director General of the archaeology department, Qasim Ali Qasim, strongly pleaded the Sindh government’s case by spelling out reasons behind its failure to take prompt remedial measures. Thus, UNESCO’s world heritage committee agreed to extend the time limit given to the custodians of the necropolis till the end of February.
Under the 18th Constitutional Amendment, all heritage sites have been devolved to the respective provincial governments.
Officials in the culture ministry said Mr. Shah in his presentation at the session said three weather stations had been established at the site for weather updates.
Besides, he added, crack monitors had been installed there so that any harm to the necropolis was promptly signalled.
The minister said guards had been deployed across the necropolis, spread over 10 square kilometres, while its geophysical survey had been duly completed. Also, he said, the four-volume master plan contained all details and maps of every grave and tomb in the site.
“The global community has paid little attention to Makli despite the fact that it is part of the assets of the whole world,” Mr. Shah was quoted as saying at the session.
The provincial authorities claimed the world heritage committee had expressed its satisfaction over the Sindh minister’s briefing. Whereas, the minister, in his message, greeted the people of Sindh and resolved that he would try to put more historical sites across the province on the world heritage map.
The world heritage committee had expected from the provincial government to check encroachment of the site’s land and theft of its properties, ensure proper maintenance and preservation, and protect the site by raising a boundary wall around it. The Sindh government claimed all such requirements had been met, or were being taken care of, like boundary wall all around.