Demand to protect cultural heritage building

October 14, 2014 Off By Web Desk

Karachi: The civil society has demanded of the government to illegal occupation of the premises of a historical eye hospital in Shikarpur, which has already been declared as the protected national cultural heritage by the provincial government of Sindh.

Sources said land mafia has occupied a cultural property – Sir Henry Holland Eye Hospital Shikarpur – also declared as “Protected Heritage” by Culture Department, Government of Sindh.

It is well known to the students of history, culture and archaeology that Shikarpur has splendid background of history, culture and civilization including matchless classical building works which has rendered it to stand in the list of historical cities of the sub-continent.

Keeping in view the heritage value of Shikarpur city, the Government of Sindh vide Culture Department’s Notification No. CHC / CTS /&YAD /1-4 /98 dated 8-8-1998, declared the whole city of Shikarpur, including houses constructed up to 1950, and its wood and iron works as ‘protected heritage’ within the meaning of ‘Sindh Cultural Heritage Preservation Act 1994.

Further, the Government of Sindh with a view to curbing tendency of people particularly the land mafia of destroying/defacing/altering etc the classical properties of cultural heritage in Shikarpur, issued a notification No.SO-I (CD) 4-49/2012, dated: 12-03-2012, declaring Shikarpur a ‘Historic City’ and ‘Protected heritage’ under the ‘Sindh Cultural Heritage Preservation Act 1994; and making all intentional acts to destroy, injure, alter, deface etc the Protected Heritage a crime, punishable under section 18 of the Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act, 1994.

The relevant part of notification is as under: “Any intentional act to destroy, injure, alter, deface and imperil the Protected Heritage or to build on or near the sites will be unlawful, and punishable under section 18 of the Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act, 1994.”

The recent case of illegal occupation is that of Sir Henry Holland Eye Hospital Shikarpur, built by a philanthropist, Shri Hiranand Mendha, in 1909 as a charity hospital.

In 1976, some Hindu merchants by mutual consent conditionally handed over the hospital to a Christian Missionary and got it registered as a Trust through “Evacuee Property Trust Board” and it was also renamed as ‘Sir Henry Holland Missionary Eye Hospital’. Since then, the institute has been working under the Trust’ to serve the noble cause which the originators had in mind.

Apart from its philanthropic aspect, the institute holds a monumental building which is fabulous model of architecture due to having classical archeological structure and design.

Taking into consideration the cultural importance of the edifice, the Culture and Tourism Department, Government of Sindh has declared it the ‘National Heritage’ enlisting it as “Protected Heritage” within the meaning of Sub Section (I) of Section -6 of Sindh Cultural Heritage (Preservation) Act, 1994.

Sources claimed that the Christian trustees have ‘unlawfully’ sold out the hospital to a land mafia for their personal financial interests and the building has till now been partially destroyed and the land is being utilized unlawfully for commercial use to construct a market there, which all is clear violation of the above mentioned notification of the Government of Sindh.

The gravity of the situation was brought into the notice of the concerned authorities of the district administration, police and the culture department by the writers, political activists and members of civil society of Shikarpur, but to no avail.

The writers, political activists and members of civil society of Shikarpur, have requested the Sindh chief minister, Sindh governor, minister of culture department and other government functionaries to take notice of the issue and stop further demolishment of the premises and illegal construction of shops in the said premises to save this precious cultural heritage of Sindh and an institute of public charity.

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