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July 06, 2020

Efforts made for MraukU inclusion on UNESCO World Heritage list

May Thet Hnin

World heritage status for historic MraukU is expected to bring prosperity to Rakhine State. Photo: Phoe Khwar

With more staff and an increased budget, survey works are being carried out to put the MraukU region on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, said U Nyein Lwin, Director of the Department of Archaeology and the National Museum in MraukU.
About 40 staff members were divided into groups to produce a map with the Geographic Information System (GIS), comparing the history of the cultural heritage with the on-ground situation, installing signs indicating location and drawing up a long-term management plan, it is learnt.
“Work has started but much need to be done. The Union Minister already explained to the people and an 11-member group led by an Assistant Director was sent. We are specially supported in this year budget”, U Nyein Lwin said,
A draft nomination to include MraukU region on the World Heritage list will be submitted in September 2018  and a final submission will have to be made by 31 January 2019.
Daw Khin Than, who is participating as a researcher and chairman of the MraukU region cultural heritage conservation group, said there was 90 per cent similarity in comparing the historical evidence with the on-ground situation.
According to research, it is ready to be on the list as more than 90 per cent of historical evidences are in line with what was seen on the ground, but when the site visit was conducted to check the location of the walls, there were some differences, said Daw Khin Than.
Presently there are about 10,000 squatters living in MraukU region, and this matter will be handled according to the master plan, it is learnt.
“If the region becomes a world heritage site, it will be a historical honour that the Rakhine State can proudly proclaim. More visitors will come as hotels springs up.
“Work opportunities for locals will increase. In striving to be on the list, the region is developing by getting a power supply, roads and bridges.”
“Once the region is in the list, it will become fully developed within 10 years”, added U Nyein Lwin.
Italy donated US$1 million to UNESCO for this work and China and Australia had also approached to assist, it is learnt.
He further added that for MraukU to become a world heritage site, cooperation of the people is required.
“Local people need to be educated to know the value of the area. Signs we put up as a guide for the area were vandalised and we have to put it up repeatedly.”
“People need to be responsible and help from the side of the authorities is also required” said U Nyein Lwin.
The ancient MraukU temple zone in Rakhine State will be the subject of a bid for UNESCO World Heritage Status, with a team of experts set to begin surveying work with a view to drafting an application.
“We can start preparing for the process of gaining heritage status.”
“It will take about five years before submitting the draft,” said U Nyein Lwin.
A team of international experts will help survey the site and prepare the bid.
Chinese experts carried out an initial survey last week. It is hoped that Myanmar will receive international assistance and funding in order to support the application.

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