PESHAWAR, April 14: The Provincial Archaeology and Museums Department and Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East (IsMEO) will begin various activities for revival of archaeological tourism in conflict-affected Swat valley.
The archaeological and tourist sites in Swat had been damaged during the last couple of years owing to militancy. The conflict had also halted excavation at archaeological sites besides affecting pro motion of tourism in the valley.
The IsMEO, which has been engaged in excavation at archaeological sites since 1956, has returned to Swat with normalisation of situation in the valley.
This time the institute, being facilitated by provincial archaeology department, has also planned rehabilitation and development of tourism in the valley.
The IsMEO will help in rehabilitation of Swat Museum in Saidu Sharif, which was damaged in a bomb blast in 2008. The items of the museum were shifted to Taxila and they are still lying there.
?Now the Italian institute, which had helped built the museum during Wali-i- Swat rule, is planning to rehabilitate it,? said Dr Abdul Samad, Consultant Archaeological and Museums of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.
The IsMEO will start work on the museum in June this year. Consultants had been hired from the University of Engineering and Technology for the purpose, he said.
The institute had planned projects for Swat valley?s archaeological sites and reserved 200 million Euros for the purpose in 2006 but its workers could not go to the valley and operated from Islamabad till 2008 owing to militancy.
The activities of IsMEO halted in 2008 but later in 2010 it resumed paperwork and chalked out different plans for revival of ar chaeological tourism, Dr Samad added.
The tourist guides, employees of archaeology department and students would also be trained for the purpose. ?Locals have been involved in all projects and about 300 jobs have been created for them,? he said.
Archaeology and Museum Director Saleh Mohammad said that IsMEO had been functioning in the valley since 1956 but it was working with the federal govern ment. Now that the provincial government would be taking over the 91 sites, including Swat Museum, it would sit with the institute to set its own terms and conditions for promotion and revival of archaeological tourism.
He said that provincial government would now issue licence for excavation and other activities to the Italian institute.
?Nobody knows as to what items have been excavated and recovered from the sites in the valley as the institute was working with the federal government. Now we will find out details of artifacts recovered by the institute,? he said.
He said that provincial government would set up a committee to review issues of recovered artifacts, encroachment and condition of the 91 sites handed over to the province after 18th Amendment.
He said that the provincial government would facilitate the institute and urge it to train people in archaeological tourism.