The State Party submitted a state of conservation report to the World Heritage Centre in November 2011. The issues raised in Decision 35 COM 7B.76 were addressed in the State Party’s report.
The property is very large and access is therefore difficult to monitor. Theft and uncontrolled digging are not uncommon, littering and fires also occur and the sites are subject to vandalism as well as general wear and tear. Facilities for visitors are very basic, with, for example, only limited water supply, difficult access arrangements and little interpretation on site. Local amenities are few, with a few small shops and limited public transport and tourist accommodation. Some suggestions for monument zoning, access arrangements, custody and fencing are made.
In response to a request by the Committee at its 35th session, a joint UNESCO/ICOMOS mission visited the property between 5 and 10 May 2012. At the time of writing this report, only a draft of the mission report was available. This mission reports confirms that almost none of the recommendations made by the World Heritage Committee contained in Decision 35 COM 7B.76 have been fulfilled.
a) Management of the property
The State Party report states that in 2011, responsibility for the property had passed from the Federal to the Provincial Government (Culture Department, Government of Sindh).
The mission reported that according to the 18th Constitutional Amendment, cultural properties have been decentralized to the provinces. Since then, the World Heritage Site of Makli as well as Moenjodaro are under the custody of the newly founded Directorate of Archaeology in Sindh Province under the ambit of Culture Department, Government of Sindh.
The mission considered that the present capacity of this directorate is insufficient to professionally run the Directorate of Archaeology, being the custodian of over more than 1200 monuments in the province. During the mission, the custodian was absent and no technical personnel attended the meetings. However the mission was informed that work at the property has been outsourced to the NGO ´Heritage Foundation´, who was represented by a conservation architect through a Memorandum of Understanding drawn up between the Sindh Government and the Heritage Foundation for joint caretaking of the property.
b) Conservation Work
The State Party reports that no major conservation work has been undertaken since the last Monitoring visit and hence no information report was sent to the WHC.. The report gives a detailed exposition of the present condition of the monuments of the property. The threats affecting the monuments range from decay of brickwork and masonry from weathering, wind action, thermal expansion, lack of structural repair, chemical action due to salts to undefined earthquake damage to structures. The report provides details on schemes of repair of individual monuments but with little detail as to their content, implementation or funding arrangements.
The report does list proposals to combat the many problems encountered on the property. These include the analysis of chemical components and programmes of desalination and monitoring; the report rightly advocates repair and repointing of masonry rather than the stone replacement or redressing that has previously been undertaken on site to prevent the degradation of the integrity of the structures. It sets out technical guidance for repair, repointing and grouting of brickwork and masonry structures, recommending minimum interventions rather than large scale replacement or rebuilding and emphasizes the necessity of undertaking archaeological and architectural surveys prior to intervention.
The mission reported that hardly any merasures have been implemented to address the serious degradation of the property, aggravated by the two monsoon seasons of 2010 and 2011. Recently the Heritage Foundation has started work on two monuments of the Samma period close to the Nizamuddin tomb and has executed a first general damage assessment of 36 monuments and a detailed documentation at the Tomb of Jam Nizamuddin.
c) Emergency Action Plan
The State Part reports states that an emergency Action Plan has been prepared by the Culture Department in collaboration with the district administration as requested at the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee. Encroachment onto the property by people displaced by the recent floods (an issue noted in the 2010 Post Flood Assessment Mission) has been prevented by fencing and the provision of emergency relief outside of the property, in accordance with this plan.
The mission noted that the disaster contingency plan for Thatta District prepared by the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) does not specify the individual situation of the World Heritage property and does not refer to a specific emergency plan for the Makli property. The mission recommended that a disaster risk management plan should be prepared to ensure that the property is not used as an evacuation area in any future emergency.
d) Adoption of a Comprehensive Master Plan and Preparation of a Management plan.
The report states that a Plan for the Conservation and Preservation of the Makli monuments will be completed by December 2011 and will be submitted to the World Heritage Committee for approval. So far, no further information has been received by the World Heritage Centre. No information has been provided on the development of a management plan.
The mission reported little progress with any of the plans. It did stress the great size and complexity of the property with thousands of individual monuments. In addition, the site is partly still in use as an adoration place, combining tangible and intangible components. The mission recommended dividing the site into several clusters with a monument identification system that works as a reference system for the damage assessment and treatment plans for each of the clusters. Such a system needs to be reflected in the Master Plan, Management Plan and Conservation Action Plan.
e) Conservation of Tomb of Jam Nizamuddin
A plan for the conservation of this structure is one of the projects listed in the State Party report but with no detail as to its methodology, conservation techniques or funding.
The mission reported that dry core drilling had been carried out, financed by UNESCO Regular Programme decentralized to UNESCO Islamabad. The interpretation of the data does not give essential information regarding the stability problems of the monument. No crack monitoring system has been installed to determine any movements in the monument. The documentation of the tomb has been professionally done by the Heritage Foundation. However, as the tomb has the highest quality three dimensional carved sandstone surfaces, a laser scan of the building is highly recommended.
The mission also reiterated the need for fixing of an adequate monitoring system along with a weather station in the very near future. It also recommended that a restudy of the dry core samples by an earth mechanic engineer, research into the horizontal cracks on the floor inside the monument, checking whether the cracks are continuing in the rock (due to possible effects of earthquake).
f) Definition of Boundaries of the property and Buffer Zone
The report states that this work has been commissioned and will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for its approval when completed.
The mission noted that the boundaries and buffer zone of the property have not yet been identified and that the property boundaries are unclear to the north and especially to the west. A surface survey has to be made to identify the extent of the archaeological/structural remains especially towards the west. The District Commissioner Thatta offered cooperation from his side to the Director of Archaeology. This activity should be carried out within the coming month and should serve as the basis for the Master Plan and the other plans.
g) Encrochment control
The mission noted that no actions could be observed regarding the implementation of encroachment control.