KARACHI, April 3: A new four-lane expressway is being built in Moenjodaro on a piece of land protected under the Antiquities Act, reliable sources told Dawn on Saturday.
The Federal Archeology department?s pleas to the National Highway Authority (NHA) to suspend the construction and discuss the issue with it have fallen on deaf ears and the construction is going full steam ahead.
The Antiquities Act of 1975 restricts any kind of construction or development on the archeology department?s land.
A buffer of 200 feet around the archeological site has also been designated as protected under the act, meaning such activities cannot be undertaken.
A no-objection certificate from the director general of the archeology department has to be obtained for undertaking any such activity.
The expressway is being constructed to connect Larkana town with the airport.
According to highly placed sources, the two government organisations have so far refused to budge from their positions, one of them insisting that construction was being done on protected land while the other maintaining that it was outside the protected zone.
The Moenjodaro curator told Dawn that the soil and sand for road construction were also being extracted from near a protective embankment, which had been constructed with financial assistance of Unesco. The embankment had been constructed between the Indus river and the ruins to protect them from flooding.
The letter written by the archeology department?s director, Qasim Ali Qasim to NHA chief Chaudhry Altaf said the NHA had been repeatedly asked to change the design of the road, but to no avail.
?In this connection you are requested to direct the authorities concerned to stop the work forthwith and realign the road ?? concludes the letter. In response to Dawn queries, NHA project director Aziz Langah said the four-lane 28km expressway was being built at a cost of Rs4 billion, He maintained that the ?road alignment is outside the archeology department?s land?.
In reply to another question regarding the extraction of sand from the riverside, he said since the NHA had given the contract to a private contractor, he was answerable for it.
NHA chief Chaudhry Altaf said he did not know that the archeology department had written any letter to his organisation