KARACHI: Provincial Minister for Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Syed Sardar Ali Shah informed the Sindh Assembly on Thursday that nearly half of the 3,317 heritage buildings and sites across the province were in Karachi, adding that their conservation was not possible without establishing an endowment fund.

He said that the culture department did not have sufficient resources and manpower for the restoration of the protected buildings, adding that the task could be achieved only by engaging civil society and setting up an endowment board and a permanent body.

Furnishing a statement and replies to the lawmakers’ written and verbal queries during Question Hour in the house, Mr Shah said the Makli necropolis in Thatta and Moenjodaro in Larkana were among the six declared World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

He said that the federal government had not allocated or spent any money for the conservation of the two World Heritage Sites in the province.

The minister was sharing information in the house while replying to supplementary questions asked by members on a written question of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf member Saeed Ahmed, who had asked Mr Shah about the heritage buildings in Karachi’s district West.

He said that a survey of the heritage buildings and sites was conducted by the culture department on directives of the Sindh High Court. “As many as 3,317 buildings and sites have been enlisted across the province and of them 1,744 are in Karachi,” he added.

The minister said that the heritage survey of 37 buildings and sites in district West had been done and they would be notified after the approval of the advisory committee on heritage.

However, he said, the responsibility for repair and maintenance of these buildings lay with the buildings’ owners.

In reply to a question by PTI member Sidra Imran, the minister said that 178 cultural events were conducted in parts of the province by the culture department during the past three years.

Answering a verbal question by Ms Imran, he said that 37 of the total 82 events were conducted in Karachi during 2018.

Separately, he said that various cultural, musical and theatre events, especially Sindhi folk music and solo instrumental performances, were arranged across the country and in different countries, including Australia, Denmark, Canada, UK, UAE, Egypt and Turkey, to promote Sindhi culture in Pakistan and abroad.

In reply to another written question by Ms Imran, the minister said that the website of Sindh Tourism Development Corporation was fully functional and open for online booking of accommodation at Keenjhar Lake Resort (Thatta), Lal Shahbaz Rest House (Sehwan) and Sambara Inn Hotel (Larkana).

He said the number of bookings for accommodation at Keenjhar Lake Resort was 189,446 during the past three months.

In reply to a verbal question, the minister said that the Gorakh Hill Station did not come under the domain of the Sindh Tourism Development Corporation. He said the Gorakh Hill Development Authority developed facilities for visitors at the resort.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019