K40 million budget estimated for Mrauk-U repairs after earthquake
TENS of millions of kyat will be needed in order to repair pagodas in Rakhine State’s Mrauk-U after they were damaged by last week’s earthquake, government experts have warned. Some religious buildings in Mrauk-U are at risk of collapse and need urgent restoration work, says the district Archaeology, Library and Museum Department.
Department director U Nyein Lwin told The Myanmar Times that at least five ancient pagodas, including the famous Koe Thaung Pa Htoe Taw Pagoda, have sustained serious damage, and another historic pagoda, Yadana Mannaung, suffered a partial collapse, losing its diamond bud.
“Some of the damaged pagodas are in a dangerous condition and are still at risk of collapse. We have to start work right away to prevent further damage,” he said.
He said an initial K20 million (US$16,600) would be required to fund the essential work. The department said it could not estimate how much more would be required to restore all the damage caused.
The 6.8-magnitude earthquake on August 24 rattled central Myanmar, including Rakhine State’s Mrauk-U township.
“We can start as soon as we receive the funding, but cannot now estimate what the full cost of repairs might be,” said U Nyein Lwin.
According to the Rakhine State government, it will cost at least K40 million to repair and restore the ancient pagodas of Mrauk-U that suffered earthquake damage.
U Min Aung, state minister for development, said the state cabinet would meet today to plan a response to the earthquake, including a schedule for renovation work.
“We visited the sites on August 25. First we have to act to prevent any more collapses before we can look at renovation. The main thing is to preserve our ancient heritage from further damage,” he said.
The buildings mainly at risk have been identified as Koe Thaung Pa Htoe Taw, Yadana Mannaung, Mann Ngar Par and Yandapone pagodas.
U Nyein Lwin said the renovations will have to start after the rainy season concludes, U Nyein Lwin said.
“Pagodas in Mrauk-U are not like those in Bagan because you can’t climb to the upper level. That’s why it requires scaffolding and an awning and is similar to how it is done in Cambodia,” he said.
The conservation committee has asked the Rakhine State government for financial support for temporary preservation measures for now, according to committee member Daw Khin Than.
“We asked for K19.9 million to construct scaffolding for Yadana Mannaung Pagoda from the Rakhine State government for temporary conservation in the rainy season,” she said. “Then we will decide the best way to renovate the pagodas after the rainy season.”
She added that they hope experts from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) can also come to survey the pagodas and advise on restoration measures.
U Thein Lwin, deputy director general of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library, said Bagan was being surveyed first because of the more severe damage inflicted there.
“Bagan has nearly 400 pagodas that were damaged due to the earthquake. That’s why they [UNESCO] conserve first in Bagan and then will look after the Mrauk-U pagodas,” he said.
– Additional reporting by Ei Ei Thu
Buddhist nuns offer prayers at an array of stupas in Mrauk-U township, Rakhine State.