Punjab gets archaeological sites

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Punjab has become owner of all the archaeological sites in the province because of the latest devolution of five federal ministries to the provinces (under the 18th amendment) but officials said on Wednesday such places could not be maintained without the National Heritage Fund. 

They said the provincial government on Wednesday notified the transfer of these ministries including education and culture but it would definitely talk to the federal government to iron out many issues related to them. 

They said according to a federal government letter, Islamabad had devolved all archaeological sites, offices, staff and development funds under the PSDP to provinces. But the list did not include the National Museum, the Flag Staff House and the Wazir Mansion in Karachi, Taxila and Islamabad museums. 

Punjab has also been given six development projects including the Sheikhupura and Rohtas forts, excavations near Sangla Hill and the Shahdara Complex which comprises the mausoleums of Emperor Jehangir and Empress Noor Jehan. 

The letter is also silent on the transfer of the National Heritage Fund which the provinces wanted to be devolved to them. Punjab had proposed to either distribute the funds equally among the provinces or according to the number of archaeological sites they have. 

All sites have so far been maintained through regular federal annual development fund. But special care is taken through the National Heritage Fund. 

Punjab is the major beneficiary of the devolution of archaeological sites to provinces because it has around 151 such places. 

Officials said Punjab was already maintaining two national-level archaeological places — the Lahore Fort and the Shalamar Gardens — given to it by the then president, Pervez Musharraf. 

They said the province was already in contact with Unesco and the US government regarding the maintenance of these two places and would further seek help from them for the improvement of the newly-received sites. 

They said the provincial government would press for the division of the National Heritage Fund and the Taxila Museum because the latter was a part and parcel of the Taxila archaeological site. 

Author: Intikhab Hanif | Source: Dawn News [April 06, 2011]

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