K40 mil­lion bud­get es­ti­mated for Mrauk-U re­pairs af­ter earth­quake

The Myanmar Times - - News - NYAN LYNN AUNG nyan­lin­aung@mm­times.com

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

Photo: Aung Htay Hlaing

Bud­dhist nuns of­fer prayers at an ar­ray of stu­pas in Mrauk-U town­ship, Rakhine State.

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