Bagan cultural zone to be included in UNESCO

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Pilgrims to Bagan, a region to be considered for the Memory of the World register, as seen on May 8. Maung Zaw / The Myanmar Times

Pilgrims to Bagan, a region to be considered for the Memory of the World register, as seen on May 8. Maung Zaw / The Myanmar Times

A draft plan to designate Bagan as one of the World’s Heritage sites will be submitted to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in September.

Union Minister in the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture Thura U Aung Ko on May 6 said that Bagan would be expanded and spruced up.

“This will include Tant Kyi Taung (Tant Kyi Hill) which is on the western part of Ayeyawady river (in Magway region) and Yone Hloot Kyoon in the eastern part of Bagan. The area is estimated to be more than 20000 acres.

“The original area of the Bagan ancient cultural zone was 27970 acres and it will be 48099 acres after expansion. Although zones are expanded, they will not remove the townships, villages, hotels, motels and restaurants,” he said.

“These are the instructions of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to us. She said to give first priority to the residents when submitting the application to UNESCO. The residents will have to worry less about now and we will give priority to them if buildings are constructed in new areas,” he said.

Currently, Bagan’s ancient cultural zone is specified as Ancient Zone, Monumental Zone and Protected Zone. Bagan Myo Thit (new Bagan) and Nyaung Oo townships will be put into the Protected Zone and hotels and restaurants in those areas will be open for the long term and new buildings will also be constructed, he added.

“Unesco’s recognition will boost the value of our country’s treasures. If the area is included in the Memory of the World register, it will create many opportunities for locals in the region. We are expediting the process for regional development. The locals will suffer if we are late in registration,” said Thura U Aung Ko.

Department of Archaeology and National Museum (Bagan branch) director U Aung Kyaw Kyaw said in order to get Bagan included in the Memory of the World register, two teams are currently working on a draft to be submitted. At present, 60 percent of the draft has been completed, and UNESCO will send a reply regarding any additional requirements for the application submitted by Myanmar in January 2018. The investigations by UNESCO will take one whole year, and the result will be released in 2019.

Previously, an application to include Bagan in the Memory of the World register was sent in 1996. However, the application was rejected, partly because of poor management and partly due to the fact that Bagan was not classified as a heritage zone at the time. A reapplication is underway.

Ancient Pyu kingdoms were the first in Myanmar to achieve world heritage status, when UNESCO recognised these as world heritage sites in 2014. Some of the requirements for recognition include whether the natives value the region in the application, whether the region is internationally well-known and beneficial for the present and future generations.


Contributed by Myanmar Times

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