Bagan ready for heritage listing experts
By EI EI THU The Myanmar times 25 JANuary 2019
One of the pagodas in the Bagan cultural heritage zone. Shin Moe Myint/The Myanmar Times
The Department of Archaeology and National Museums is ready to answer questions on the Bagan heritage area from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), says the department’s director.
Richard Mackay, an expert from the council, conducted a survey last September for a report that will be submitted to UNESCO regarding Myanmar’s application to list the ancient city as a World Heritage Site.
“We are preparing to answer the questions of the ICOMOS expert, who wants more information before submitting a final report to UNESCO in March,” department director U Aung Aung Kyaw said.
He did not say what questions would be asked.
U Thu Ya Aung, secretary of the Myanmar Archaeology Association, said there are three possible outcomes to the listing application process.
“One is Bagan is added to the World Heritage List; two is that listing is deferred as in 1994, when UNESCO requested that stronger laws and a management plan be created to protect Bagan; and three is that the application is denied.
“At present, the management of the Bagan heritage area prioritises development over protection. The authorities are still allowing new hotel projects and roads in the heritage zone, even though there is enough space outside the zone,” U Thu Ya Aung said.
To reduce traffic within the ancient city last year, the regional authorities re-opened Tharabar Gate, the last wall from the Bagan era. The increasing number of vehicles using the route is worrying to experts.
“Even though Tharabar Gate has a security team, some domestic travellers are climbing up its wall. The traffic and crowds of people are threatening the long-term sustainability of the gate,” U Thu Ya Aung said.
Recently some Bagan and Nyaung-U residents protested to call for more information about the proposed cultural heritage law.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture is amending the Protection and Preservation of Cultural Heritage Regions Law, which has passed the Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House) and Attorney General’s Office and will be tabled in the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House).
“The new law proposes that people not be allowed to do any renovation, even for building a fence in the heritage zone, without obtaining permission from the Department of Archaeology. We want regulations to be more flexible for residents of the heritage zone,” Daw Khin Moh Mon Aung, a resident of New Bagan, said.