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Some of the cracks in a richly stone-craved portion of the Jam Nizamuddin's tomb, one of the many monuments facing stability threat in the Makli necropolis.–Photo by Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: The Sindh government expects that it will get some more time for the conservation of the Makli necropolis as a team of experts in a report has suggested to the World Heritage Committee to wait and see the results of the steps taken for the protection of the site before deciding whether to include it in the List of World Heritage in Danger, it emerged on Sunday.

The recommendation has been made in a report prepared after a joint United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation/ International Council of Sites and Monuments (Icomos) reactive monitoring mission to the historical monuments at Makli visited the necropolis from May 5 to 10 and shared with the government a few days back.

The report has been prepared by German archaeologist Dr Michael Jansen, who has also been associated with Moenjodaro conservation for over three decades, and Sindh Unesco chief Kazi Ayaz Mahessar.

It recommends to the government that boundaries of the site and its buffer zone to be identified and adequate regulatory measures taken to ensure its protection and management.

The developed maps, along with the statement of outstanding universal value of the property, should be the basis for making decisions regarding conservation and management of the archaeological site, which needs to be reflected in the development of the management plan, it says.

The report highlights the need to carry out a comprehensive inventory of all monuments, including appropriate documentation and historical information, within the inscribed property. It says that the inventory should be the basis of the recording of current conservation conditions, including decaying factors and effects, and proposals for intervention so as to develop a conservation plan that prioritise actions based on the state of conservation. The conservation plan should include specifications for interventions together with detailed budget estimates, it adds.

The report also calls for environmental monitoring that it says is critical for the assessment of current deterioration mechanisms. According to the report, at least three weather stations should be set up at different points at the Makli necropolis to obtain and analyse data pertaining to wind velocity, air humidity, temperature and precipitation, for which adequate financial and technical resources are needed to be secured.

The report seeks development of specific damage assessment (condition recording) and a treatment plan for the monument of Jam Nizamuddin. Existing documentation can be used as a basis for this task, it says, recommending to the government that additional monitoring of cracks in the monument be carried out to prioritise interventions.

It highlights the need for the formulation of a management plan for the Makli necropolis, including provision for conservation actions, public use and disaster risk management. The latter is particularly important in light of heavy Indus floods anticipated this year and disaster measures are needed to be implemented as soon as possible, it adds.

Referring to devolution of powers under the 18th Amendment, it says that due to the decentralisation of cultural properties, including World Heritage Sites (Sindh Makli Hills and Moenjodaro) from the federal to provincial level, capacity building in the administrative and technical sectors needs to be enhanced on an urgent basis. Expressing concern over conservation measures, the report says that hardly any measure has been taken to address the serious degradation of the site and the factors affecting it include theft, uncontrolled excavations, vandalism and general deterioration derived from natural factors.

According to the team of experts, the site is threatened by local climatic conditions (earthquake, variations in temperatures, winds containing salts and humidity, heavy rains, natural growth etc) and shift of river bed in addition to encroachment and vandalism, while damages and losses owing to pilferage have assumed colossal proportions. A number of monuments have reached an advanced stage of degradation, the report says.

Floods Responding to Dawn queries, Sindh Archaeology Director Qasim Ali Qasim said that people in large numbers had shifted to the Makli hills following the floods / rains in 2010 and 2011, which affected the monuments.

To evaluate the situation, he said, Unesco had sent its experts to the site. The experts after their visit made some recommendations and allowed some time to the government for their implementation, he added.

Later, the German expert on a government invitation had come to see if any improvement had been made, he added that the report was then submitted to the World Heritage Committee that met at St Petersburg last month.

While the committee’s decision had not yet been communicated to the department, as it usually took time, he hoped for a favourable decision.