Rain and floods threaten archaeological and heritage sites


The recent monsoon rains and subsequent floods, which caused colossal loss of life and property, also destroyed archaeological and heritage sites in Sindh.

In its 56-page report, the Sindh Department of Culture and Antiquities listed 19 sites of paramount importance in 10 districts of the province that require immediate preservation. These sites are in Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Dadu, Khairpur, Sukkur, Ghotki, Thatta, Matiari, Sanghar and Benazirabad districts.

Although the Moen-jo-Daro is not mentioned in the report, local residents shared images and photographs of collapsed walls at the ancient site on social media.

On August 29, the General Directorate of Antiquities and Archeology also launched a tender for “the provision of emergency first aid to archaeological and heritage sites damaged by rain”. The scope of the work implies that the ministry does not intend to proceed with the complete preservation of these sites.

The contractors must complete the work within six months. The tender, however, does not provide details of the sites and the amount budgeted for their preservation.

Damage to sites

According to the report, the fortification walls of Ranikot Fort in Jamshoro suffered severe damage during the rains. “Many parts of the wall have collapsed at the gates of Sann, Merikot, Shergarh and Mohan,” the report said. The road leading to Fort Merikot was also washed away. “The skin of the wall has been weakened and badly broken due to water infiltration,” he adds. The walkway passage along the fortification wall also collapsed.

The roof of the Sehwan Folk and Handicraft Museum in Jamshoro is also leaking and the paint on the ceiling has peeled off. Moisture and humidity eroded the varnish on the furniture. “The general condition of the museum is unsatisfactory,” the report said.

The situation, according to the report, is no different at the Aamri mound and museum in Jamshoro where, in addition to the structure, furniture, solar panels, CCTV cameras, ceiling fans, batteries and even light bulbs have been damaged.

Meanwhile, the department has expressed concern that much of the Pucca Qila fort in Hyderabad could collapse as it has already been weakened due to encroachments in the form of houses and shops built over it and below the wall. “The wall is very weak. The bricks have crumbled and eroded,” the report said.

Tombs of the Kalhoro and Talpur dynasties and two historic Tando Fazl mosques in Hyderabad were also affected by the downpours. “The mud-built perimeter wall has collapsed in several places and its bricks are scattered all around,” the report said. The parts of the wall that survived the torrential downpour are now threatened by water infiltration and may also collapse.

The floor and walls inside the tombs as well as the tombs in the courtyard of Talpur Tombs in Heerabad area of ​​Hyderabad are in a dilapidated condition. Large cracks have appeared in the vaulted roofs of Tajars No. 1, 2 and 4. “The floor of the Tajars has been washed away and the tombs have developed holes which will further damage them from the inside,” he says.

The Kashi tiles have come off at various places on the wall of Mian Ghulam Nabi Kalhoro’s tomb and the lime plaster is also falling off.

Kotdiji fort in Khairpur district is surrounded by flood waters. Parts of its fortification wall have crumbled, while the bricks are also crumbling.

The rain inflicted extensive damage to tourist attraction Satyan-jo-Aastan in Sukkur district, stripping Kashi tiles, washing away glaze and undermining bricks. Rain-induced havoc was also seen at the Bhanbhore archaeological site in Thatta district. Parts of the fortification wall collapsed, while the stone masonry developed cracks.

The ancient site of Brahmanabad in Sanghar district is also blocked and stagnant water is deteriorating the condition of the Stupa. The conditions at Mir Shahdad’s grave in Sanghar are no different.

The surrounding wall and bricks of the Buddhist stupa in Benazirabad district were damaged and the main gate of the tomb of Mian Noor Muhamamd Kalhoro was also destroyed. In all, there are 16 monuments in the tomb, 11 of which bore the brunt.

The dome of Yar Muhammad’s tomb in Dadu district may collapse as it was damaged by the rains, according to the report. The kiosk behind the tomb has collapsed. The rains also damaged other monuments inside the tomb. The structure of Jamia Masjid Khudabad in Dadu district also started to collapse.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 5e2022.

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