KARACHI, Oct 15: Experts at a conference on Saturday said that a major portion of the Moenjodaro ruins, a world heritage site, be reburied to preserve it for future generations, while a portion of it be better preserved for education and tourism.
Speaking at the national conference on Moenjodaro, organised jointly by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the Sindh culture department, they said the Moenjodaro site, which showcases the over 5,000-year-old Indus Valley Civilisation, had been in a better state during the 1930s than it was now.
Visiting Unesco expert Micheal Jansen, who has been working on Moenjodaro for the past many years, said many of the walls and other structures of the site were in an advanced stage of deterioration and that improper methods had been adopted to preserve the ruins.
Comparing Indus Valley civilisation with those of Egypt, Mesopotamia and China, he said there were no big temples, palaces and huge pyramid-like structures in the Indus civilisation ruins as they showcased how the common people lived over 5,000 years back as their cities had both drinking water and drainage. He said Moenjodaro was probably the biggest and best planned metropolis of its time.
Former Sindh antiquities secretary Kaleem Lashari said the rising water table was one of the persistent problems threatening the site.
He said that since efforts made by the government and international experts to properly preserve the site had proved inadequate, only a small portion of the site be preserved for educational and tourism purposes, and the rest of it be buried to be re-excavated by future generations, which might be equipped with better preservation technologies and other means.
Former Sindh culture secretary Hameed Akhund said that with the devolution the archeological sites had been handed over to the provinces. But while the culture department was the custodian of the sites, they were maintained by the antiquities department. And the dual control would further ruin the sites, which had suffered much during the past six decades. He said mostly international experts had been doing preservation-related experiments with Meonjodaro and as a result they had battered the site.
Prof Safdar Khan from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said the bricks and other construction material used in Moenjodaro had suffered greatly owing to the rising level of dampness, subsoil water as well as salts.
He said that till proper technology and procedure were found, it was better to leave the site alone rather than using a wrong technology and destroy what was left of it.
Vice Chancellor of Shah Abdul Latif University in Khairpur Dr Nilofer Shaikh said the preservation of the 50 kilometres of running walls of Moenjodaro was a challenge for the experts.
She said a management body with Bronze Age experts be set up and located at the site and not in a big city.
Sindh Assembly speaker Nisar Khuhro said many of the protected sites had been encroached upon and stressed enactment of strict laws and their better implementation.
Sindh culture minister Sassui Palijo said that efforts would be made to remove encroachments from all protected sites.
MNA Nafisa Shah said the preservation of the site had suffered owing to inconsistency in planning and implementation, and suggested that some permanent institutional arrangements be put in place so that policies and plans not only be made but implemented also.
Unesco director Dr Kozue Kay Nagata, Dr Mohammad Arif, Sindh Culture secretary Aziz Uquaily, Yasmin Lari, Abul Kalam (NED University), Razzaq Soomro, Dr Dur Mohammad Pathan, Saleem-ul-Haq, and others also spoke.
The programme was briefly disrupted when a woman in the audience stood up to ask a question. As she was speaking, she was interrupted with organisers asking her to conclude her speech. Incensed, she shouted and abused them before she was seen lying flat on the ground.