Kandahar historic sites falling into ruin
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Residents and culturists in southern Kandahar province say a number of historic monuments are on the verge of collapse and need urgent repair and protection.
The historical sites are either illegally dug or lands surrounding them have been grabbed, compromising Kandahar’s historic reputation, they add
On the other hand, Kandahar culture and information director says measures have been taken for protection of historic monuments and efforts are underway for their rehabilitation.
More than 30 heritage sites with some more than a thousand years old are registered in Kandahar.
The sites include Kandahar old city, Ashuka Katiba, Chehel Zina, Narange Palace, Mandigag, Arg, Ahmad Shahi Castle, Spirwan Hilltop, Mina Tower and some other places which are currently in bad condition and may gradually perish if not paid attention.
Abdul Wasay Hasyal, a writer and lecturer at the Malalai University in Kandahar, told Pajhwok Afghan News that insecurity, land grabbing and construction of buildings near historical sites were damaging the value of the monuments.
He said the Narange Palace which dated back to more than a thousand years was on the brink of collapse as large areas around it had been usurped.
The Ministry of Information and Culture should to prevent land grabbing near historic sites and build surrounding wall around them.
Hasyal said the houses of Mirwais Nika and Ahmad Shah Baba, where grandchildren of the former Afghan leaders were living now, should be purchased by the government from them for the sake of preservation.
The house of former Afghan King Ahmad Shah Baba is located in Lomri Samt area of Kandahar city. The house had been built by professional architects of the time in 1172 solar year.
Hasyal said a large number of other historic sites in a number of districts ---Arghandab, Panjwai, Maiwand, Spin Boldak and others -- also needed the central government’s attention.
Ahmad Shah Separ, another resident of Kandahar city, said Kandahar old city, Narange Palace, Mandigak Hilltop, Spirwa Hilltop, Mina Tower, Sulaiman Akhunzada Tower and some other heritage sites were in bad condition and needed protection.
The government neither in the past nor in present had cared about the protection of such important sites, he said.
“Corruption was committed in repair works on these sites. If a historic site’s repair needs $1,000, the officials charge $50,000 for that,” he said.
He asked the MoIC and UNESCO to help repair and protect historic monuments in Kandahar.
Mohammad Kabir Darwish, another Kandahar dweller, said Malalai Maiwand Tomb in Maiwand district was also falling into ruin and needed attention.
Information and Culture department head Hazrat Wali said he had taken a series of steps since taking office two years ago to preserve and rehabilitate heritage sites in Kandahar and that he was working on other plans as well.
He said during his initial days as the director, he sent letters to all districts where historical sites existed. He said protection of such sites was the duty of police.
If someone intended to destroy a historic monument or wanted to occupy relevant land, district officials should inform the information and culture department in order such people were arrested and brought to justice, he said.
Hazrat Wali said the Ministry of Information and Culture was the only ministry receiving the least budget.
Despite budget shortage, the Kandahar information and culture department had planned to reconstruct heritage sites under threat with the help from Kandahar Municipality and national businessmen.
He cited the example of Mirwais Nika Tomb and the Holy Shrine building which were repaired that way. He went on to say that currently he was planning to repair and protect the Zarghona Ana Tomb, Saliman Akhonzadah Tower, Mina Tower and other heritage sites.
About the Malalai Maiwandi Tomb in Maiwand district, he said the tomb’s area was under Taliban control who had planted landmines on it.
To reconstruct the Malalai Tomb and construct a dome on it, insurgents were approached through local people, but denied work there, he said.
About acquiring the Ahmad Shah Baba abode, he said, some time ago the government had decided to acquire the residence and change it into a national museum. However, the descendants of the Baba living in the house priced it at large sums of money, as a result both sides did not agree.
He said usually if any construction work was being carried out, the urban development department referred it to the information and culture department in order to confirm there existed no historic monument.
Many heritage sites in Kandahar are on the verge of extinction while insecurity has been keeping at bay local and foreign tourists to visit them.
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