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HARIPUR, April 9: Following the devolution of the Ministry of Museums and Archives to the provinces under the 18th constitutional amendment, the federal government has asked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to take over charge of 19 archaeological Buddhist sites that are in the territorial jurisdiction of district Haripur, official sources told Dawn here on Saturday.

The KP department of archaeology is being given the charge of a total of 91 archaeological sites including Swat Museum.

It was reported that the federal government had written to all the provinces to take over the charge of archaeological sites falling in their territorial jurisdiction. The KP was also asked to take over the sites including Swat Museum and 19 of the Buddhist sites previously under the control of Taxila Museum.

From the Buddhist city of Taxila, the famous and frequently visited sites that the KP government will be taking control of include Jandial Stupa, Jinan Wali Dheri, Badal Pur Stupa, Buddhist Monastery of 300 BC commonly known as Julian University, Mound Pind Ghakhra, Tofkian Stupa, Mirpur Mound, Sirsukh, Piplian archaeological site, Lalchcuk Stupa, Chiti archaeological site, Bhirmound and some others. The rest of the archaeological sites are situated in Abbottabad, Mansehra, Balakot, Kohistan, Swabi, Mardan, Bannu and D.I. Khan.

When approached for comments, KP Director Archaeology Saleh Mohammad Khan confirmed the report that his department had formally received the notification from the Cabinet Division, Islamabad pertaining to taking over of 91 sites in the entire province and started spade work to this effect.

He said that there were three categories of sites-- A, B and C -- which were graded by the federal government in accordance with their importance and condition. However, he said, he had suggested a committee comprising the officials of the federal department of archaeology, provincial archaeology department and revenue department. He said that this committee would verify all the record and would be handed over sites. He added that after completion of the required process of photography and filming, his department would take over these sites.

To a question Mr Khan said that his department had 250 employees but for taking care of the new sites he would prefer to get the services of federal archaeology department staff, especially the watchmen who were most experienced and had been working on these sites for several years.

“It is wise to get all the previously employed staff of the federal government for the sites rather than hiring fresh ones and inexperienced employees,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the other hand the Cabinet Division, Islamabad through a notification issued here the other day announced to hand over the services of 130 employees of Taxila Museum to Punjab government on deputation under section 10 of the service rules. The notification issued on April 5, 2011 has sent a shockwave among the employees, who face an uncertain future. On the other hand, there will be no one to take care of the sites being handed over to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.