SHC directs culture dept to ensure preservation of historical sites

Jamal Khurshid
Sunday, May 28, 2023

The Sindh High Court has directed the secretary of the culture and archeology department to ensure permanent preservation and proper maintenance of historical sites and sensitise the public at large on ownership and protection of these sites.

The direction came on petitions relating to the conservation, protection and maintenance of historical sites in Sindh, including the Lansdowne Bridge in Sukkur and Satiyan Jo Astan in Rohri areas.

The petitioners submitted that a massive annual budget has been retained by the government to preserve, uphold and maintain such historical cenotaphs, but of no avail, as these sites are in a poor condition and losing their prominent status.

The chief engineer of the Sukkur Barrage left bank region submitted his report pointing out that the Lansdowne Bridge, being national heritage, has almost completed its more than one century period; however, the relevant officials have failed to preserve, maintain or uphold its status, as the road surface over the bridge as well as the pedestrian path are in a dilapidated condition requiring urgent rehabilitation/maintenance to ensure smooth and safe passage of both vehicles and pedestrians.

Professor Qasid H. Mallah of Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur submitted a detailed report wherein he has pointed out with photogrphs decaying structures of historical sites, which are being seriously damaged due to lack of attention as well as catastrophes, saying that the sites need stringent efforts for preservation and rehabilitation.

A high court division bench, comprising Justice Salahuddin Panhwar and Justice Abdul Mobeen Lakho, after hearing the arguments of the counsel and perusal of reports, directed the provincial culture department to declare the Lansdowne Bridge and Sukkur barrage as heritage properties and notify the same within one month.

The court directed the department to ensure permanent preservation and proper maintenance of the historical sites and establish information desks at these sites for promoting cultural, national and local identities.

It further directed the department to sensitize public at large through print, electronic and social media for ownership and protection of the sites instead of depending on the state authorities.

The high court told the secretary of the schools and education department to ensure introduction of the Lansdowne Bridge and Sukkur Barrage in the syllabus upto elementary schools with regard to history, architectural and scientific value of lands and the Sukkur Barrage from the academic year 2023-2024.

It told the education secretary to notify a committee including competent engineers, archeologists and educationalists, who will prepare a comprehensive story/introduction to be added to the syllabus.