Bagan redraws heritage zones

BAGAN, 20 June 2017: Bagan’s  World Heritage zone will skirt existing buildings and in some areas be extended to ensure communities do not lose residences or buildings.

The city is preparing its presentation, which will be the framework for a comprehensive request for UNESCO World Heritage recognition, but considerable pressure from residents who stood to lose property has now prompted revisions of the strict zoning that was earlier proposed.

Myanmar Times Bagan’s Department of Archaeology and National Museum director, U Aung Aung Kyaw, said the new zoning project will be completed by the end of this month.

“Under the previous zone specifications, many buildings in Bagan Myo Thit needed to be demolished. To avoid causing problems for residents, we redefining areas specified in the zoning.”

The State Counsellor had earlier instructed that programme administrators that if it did not benefit the people it should not be implemented. This has been interpreted to mean that no existing buildings needed to be demolished as earlier stated.

The redrawn zoning will cover 20,000 acres, including Tant Kyi Taung on the western side of the Ayeyarwady River in Magwe Region and Yone Hlut Kyun in eastern Bagan.

However, total area of the ancient Bagan cultural zone that will be classified as a heritage zone covers about 50,000 acres, the director said.

The ancient Bagan cultural areas will be divided into three distinct areas; monumental zone, protected zone and the Bagan Myo Thit and Nyaung-U, where ancient pagodas are located.

“The initial area was about 49,000 acres, but it has now been extended to populous areas. The exact boundaries will be known at the end of June,” he said.

Gaining World Heritage status from UNESCO remains a lengthy journey before a decision is made. The Bagan Cultural Heritage submission to the list of global heritage, known as a  Nomination Dossier, will have to be tendered at the end of September this year, followed by evaluation and inspection trips that will lead up to short-list consideration at the agency’s annual convention in mid-2019.

Bagan welcomed about 250,000 tourists in 2015 and it is expects 500,000 by 2018.

Many of the ancient pagodas were severely damaged during an earthquake last August. It damaged 258 famous temples, 104 pagodas and 13 brick monasteries.

According to the restoration plan, major restoration work on 89 quake-damaged pagodas and Buddhist temples in Bagan started in January.

In the first phase, the work will focus on 36 pagodas including Bagan’s well-known Sulamani and Ananda temples.

Restoration of 53 other important monuments will take place in the second stage.

The entire project will take five years and will require fund raising from the private sector.

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