TAXILA, Oct 3 2009: Courtesy Daily Dawn, The federal archaeology department says it is is struggling to protect ancient sites in Taxila and Hassanabdal from vandalism and encroachment, which have exposed them to the threat of destruction.
Around 50 internationally acclaimed sites, dating back to the Buddhist, Mughal and Colonial era, are located in the two towns and some of them have been regarded as “World Heritage Sites” by USESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) , whereas the Pakistani government has notified them as ?protected sites? under the Antiquities Act 1975.
According to Dawn reporter Official sources and documents available with the reporter reveal that there are more than two dozen ancient sites in Taxila and Hassanabdal, and at least six of them have fallen prey to encroachers and land grabbers. They include Sarai Khola, Bhir Mound, Nicholson Monument, Wah Gardens and Lalarukh Tomb.
The archeology department, which does not have its own force or resources to get remove encroachments, has to seek assistance from local police as well as revenue department to reclaim the land.
However, for over a year such help is not always available because of encroachers? alleged links with some influential political figures.
Irony is theat at some of these beautiful sites, mobile phone service providers have installed their UGLY base transceiver stations (BTSs) while a hotel is also being constructed near Taxila Museum and Bhir Mound adding to the mosery of the site.
The archaeology department has issued as many as 12 notices to the land owner and a local court has stopped the contractor from carrying out the work, but the hotel and a plaza are still being constructed, thanks to the influance of the high ups.
The archaeology department brought the matter into the notice of the police but they failed to take any action against the violator due to the reasons best known to them.
At Sarai Khola, a site dating back to 4000 BC Pre Indus Civlization, illegal digging and encroachment are going on unabated. In this case also, the department has issues a dozen noti ces to the violator and a case has been registered against him but the police seem reluctant to take any action.
Similarly, houses have been constructed around Mughal Gardens in Wah and Lalarukh Tomb in Hassanabdal.
When contacted, an official of the archaeology department?s sub regional office in Taxila said local courts ruled in favour of the department but local people backed by political leadership flouted the court orders, and police also took no any action against them.
It may be recalled here that the Supreme Court on August 6, 2007, ordered the removal of all encroachments in and around the archeological sites throughout the country.
In the judgment passed by a two-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and Justice M. Javed Buttar, the Punjab government was told to remove encroachments from historical places within three months.
The apex court also directed the chief secretaries of all the four provinces to remove encroachments around historical places in their respective areas “as if the court orders will be listend to.”