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Probe body on Harappa park

May 26, 2005

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LAHORE, May 25: The federal government on Wednesday constituted a committee to probe into the issuance of an NOC for the establishment of an amusement park adjacent to the Harappa Museum. The Sahiwal district government had secured an NOC from the archaeology department for the establishment of an amusement park at a cost of Rs10 million on the premises of the Harappa site a few months ago.

Rai Azizullah Khan, an MNA from Sahiwal, had got approved the grant from Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz last year “for the uplift of the archaeological site of Harappa and the museum besides the provision of facilities there”.

However, on reports that the proposed site may hinder the excavation work, the federal culture minister had scrapped the project.

It remained elusive how did the district government obtain the NOC despite the fact that setting up of any new facility at the historical site required a careful examination under the antiquity laws before its approval.

Sources in the federal capital told Dawn on Wednesday that the committee, headed by additional secretary (culture) Khalid Saeed Haroon, would probe into the matter and submit its report to the ministry next month.

On the other hand, Federal Culture Minister Ajmal Khan had stated that since the project had been scrapped, there was no question of fixing responsibility in this respect.

The sources said the department had to issue the NOC as it was the prime minister’s directive. They said the department had proposed that the park should be set up at a distance from the Harappa site, but the district government did not agree.

The project was to be developed at the Dak Bungalow at the Harappa site. The area was explored by the archaeology department in 1960s and known as Cemetery R-37.

According to a survey report, the debris belonged to Harappen period. The report has been published in the Pakistan Archaeology No (5).

The district government had observed that the site for the amusement park was adjacent to the rest house, kitchen, old museum campus and residences of curator, assistance curator and other staff, therefore, there was no harm in setting up a park there. The third millennium BC sites at Harappa are prominently visible in the countryside and lie on the left bank of the old course of the Ravi, encompassing full chronological extent of the Indus civilization.

The first excavation was done in 1920s. It has two striking features like the presence of a series of residential mounds on northern and eastern sides and the walls surrounding each mound.

An adjacent town’s buildings, pastoral, agricultural and other activities have adversely affected the site.

Rainwater has also affected the exposed structures of the site. Outflow of heavy rainwater through its contour causes gullies and fissures in the mounds. Natural vegetation and wild growth have also expedited the degradation process.