THATTA: The 15th century architectural marvel, the shrine of Samma ruler Jam Nizamuddin II alias Jam Nindo (1439-1509), at Makli necropolis has developed large cracks and may vanish into oblivion if the authorities concerned fail to take steps on a war footing to preserve the heritage site, fear conservationists.
Jam Nindo was the most famous ruler of the Samma dynasty, which ruled Sindh, parts of Punjab and Balochistan from 1351 to 1551 CE. His capital was Thatta and his reign was considered the golden age of Sindh.
Inscribed with 12 bands of decoration running around the building from top to bottom comprising stone-carved diamonds, lotuses, Quranic inscriptions and geometric patterns, the structure is one of the most attractive in the necropolis.
Sarfaraz Jatoi, the necropolis conservator, disclosed that in recent months Matthias and Rand Eppich, structural engineers, architects and conservationists from Germany and Spain, respectively, carried out geo-technical studies of the monument on behalf of Unesco with a view to protecting the heritage site. They were yet to submit reports, he said.
Qasim Ali Qasim, former director general of archaeology department, disclosed that Unesco was highly concerned about the monument which had been included in the master plan of the archaeology department.
He said that during his tenure the department had installed ‘gauges’ in the tomb on professionals’ recommendations to measure changes in the size of the cracks due to earthquake or other underground activity. But he could not say if the gauges were still working properly or not, he said.
About the present status of the structure, he said, when the position of columns was measured through plumb bob and other measuring instruments experts found the 33-foot tall structure with an equal size of plinth leaning seven inches towards the ground which was quite alarming.
Mr Qasim said that Mohan Lal, an engineer affiliated with Endowment Fund Trust for the Preservation of the Heritage of Sindh, had told him the fund was considering erecting a concrete wall at the back of the structure to save it from collapse.
He said that Unesco had warned the Pakistan government during its last meeting in Poland on June 17 last year that if required steps, including the construction of outer yard boundary wall, end to burial of outsiders and strengthening of the monument, were not taken according to the World Heritage Site rules, the Jam Nindo tomb would be struck off the list of endangered heritage sites of the world.
Former director general of archaeology Dr Mohammad Ali Manjhi called for immediate steps to save the structure, one of the most attractive tombs of necropolis, from vanishing into oblivion.
Activists of Thatta Historical Society and Sindh Cultural Forum, Sadiq Lakho, Allah Juriyo Burfat, Maaru Khushik, Ahmed Khushik and Nawaz Ali Qureshi, said that political personalities and vested interest groups were a major obstruction to construction of seven kilometre boundary wall around the necropolis, end to unabated practice of burials and encroachments within the limits of the heritage site.
They said that although the department appeared to make some efforts for the preservation of heritage sites, it had largely failed to live up to expectations after it took control of historical monuments under the 18th Amendment.
Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2018