PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa directorate of archaeology has asked the mines and minerals department to declare more than 80 archaeological sites across the province as lease-free under the KP Antiquities Act, 2016.

To this effect, the directorate has written a letter to the mines and minerals department and shared a list of 84 immovable antiquities, monuments, and assets which have been declared protected under the Act. The letter has also shared the coordinates of these sites with the department.

It said the list of the protected heritage sites was being provided to be declared lease-free.

A senior official told Dawn that a recent incident of illegal mining at one such site promoted the step. He said the KP chief secretary had called a meeting on Sept 14, where the issue was discussed and the mines department was directed to not issue mining licences at such sites.

The official said to ensure protection of the sites, the directorate of archaeology had also shared the GPS coordinates of all the protected sites with the relevant department to declare them lease-free.

He said the Mardan district administration had also imposed section 144 on mining activities in Tahrelli archaeological site in Sawal Dher area in light of the government’s directions.

He said a notification issued by the Mardan deputy commissioner to this effect said the section 144 was being imposed for two months and anyone found violating the order would be proceeded against under section 188 of the PPC.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2020