Myanmar’s travails to get the ancient pagodas at Bagan, hundreds of which were damaged in last month’s earthquake, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List have been well documented.
Attempts to get them listed have thus far been rejected, with heritage experts citing problems including bad management and shabby restoration projects under the former ruling military junta.
But, according to the Minister for Religious Affairs and Culture, the struggle is nearly over.
The site, home to thousands of pagodas dating back hundreds of years, is “sure to be World Heritage before 2020”, Thura U Aung Ko told 7Day newspaper.
Officials recently announced that they intend to submit a draft proposal bidding for the status ahead of the 2018 meeting of the World Heritage Site Committee.
“Then we’ll discuss the draft bill with experts from UNESCO,” Thura U Aung Ko was quoted as saying. “Then we’ll submit a final version of it. And we’ll make Bagan to be in the list of World Heritage in 2020. It is sure that Bagan will be world heritage before 2020.”
The minister addressed concerns that the damage wrought by last month’s earthquake could hinder the attempt, promising that all the pagodas would be restored to their original state.
More than 40 pagodas with severe damage have been covered with plastic sheets to prevent further problems caused by rain during the country’s heavy monsoon season. Some 2,000 volunteers involved in the clean-up effort have reportedly been given instructions by a UNESCO expert.
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