Ba­gan to bid for her­itage sta­tus in 2018

The Myanmar Times - - News - MAUNG ZAW maungzaw@mm­times.com

THE plight of Ba­gan’s “limbo ho­tels” could come un­der the spot­light again as the au­thor­i­ties start the process of get­ting the city’s famed cul­tural zone listed as a World Her­itage Site.

Such a des­ig­na­tion is ex­pected to make Ba­gan even more pop­u­lar as a tourist re­sort, with all the im­pli­ca­tions for job op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­fras­truc­tural im­prove­ments and in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion.

Yes­ter­day, U Than Zaw Oo, di­rec­tor of the Myan­mar branch of the World Her­itage Site Com­mit­tee, an­nounced that the gov­ern­ment would ap­ply for list­ing at the 2018 meet­ing of the com­mit­tee.

“We will ap­ply to regis­ter Ba­gan re­gion as a World Her­itage Site. Over the next two years we will de­mar­cate the cul­tural zone and com­pile a full list of cul­tural sites in Ba­gan. We will also take peo­ple’s sug­ges­tions for de­mar­cat­ing the area.”

He added that after the ap­pli­ca­tion had been sub­mit­ted to the 2018 42nd World Her­itage Site Com­mit­tee, com­mit­tee rep­re­sen­ta­tives would visit the city the fol­low­ing year.

To de­fine the area of the cul­tural zone, an 18-mem­ber com­mit­tee was formed in the last week of July com­pris­ing of­fi­cials from the min­istries of Home Af­fairs, Re­li­gion and Cul­ture and other gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, Myan­mar En­gi­neer­ing So­ci­ety and the Man­dalay Re­gion gov­ern­ment.

U Than Zaw Oo said the gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials would check to en­sure that ho­tels in the cul­tural zone were in com­pli­ance with the 1988 law gov­ern­ing the pro­tec­tion and preser­va­tion of cul­tural her­itage re­gions.

The long-running “limbo ho­tels” prob­lem arose when the 42 hote­liers were cleared to build in Ba­gan by the Ar­chae­ol­ogy Depart­ment in 2013, but sub­se­quently or­dered to stop work and not to take in guests.

The guest­houses, mostly mod­est es­tab­lish­ments run by lo­cal res­i­dents, are deemed to be too close to Ba­gan’s famed tem­ples, a fac­tor that could put at risk the city’s bid to be in­cluded on the UNESCO World Her­itage list­ing.

As a re­sult, the Min­istry of Cul­ture re­in­stated a zon­ing ban put in place in 1998 but rarely en­forced since then. Ear­lier this year, 129 prop­er­ties deemed to be op­er­at­ing too close to the an­cient site, in­clud­ing the 42 guest­houses, were given a 10-year dead­line to move to a spe­cial ho­tel zone.

U Win Myint Khaing, chair of the hlut­taw’s Re­li­gious, So­cial and Cul­tural Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, said last month that this was its first at­tempt to un­tan­gle the com­plex legal sit­u­a­tion that has con­fused land­lords, hote­liers and lo­cal res­i­dents. The seven-mem­ber com­mit­tee un­der­took a three-day sur­vey from July 6 to 9 with a view to re­port­ing back to the re­gion par­lia­ment on a pos­si­ble amend­ment to the 1998 law. – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

Photo: Aung Htay Hlaing

Prepa­ra­tions are un­der­way to pre­pare Ba­gan for a World Her­itage sta­tus ap­pli­ca­tion.

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