World, Culture, Asia - Pacific

Myanmar to build viewpoints to protect famous old city

Accepts Japanese agency plan to protect 100s of monuments in Bagan damaged in recent earthquake from further erosion

Myanmar to build viewpoints to protect famous old city ( Kyaw Kyaw - Anadolu Agency )

By Kyaw Ye Lynn

YANGON, Myanmar

Myanmar is to construct artificial viewpoints in an effort to take the weight off hundreds of monuments in an ancient city that were damaged in a recent earthquake.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) proposed the viewpoints southeast of Sulamuni pagoda in Bagan -- Myanmar's most famous tourist attarction – last year in order to reduce the strain on the ancient temples which tourists have years climbed for sightseeing and sunset views.

On Sunday, state-run newspaper the Global New Light of Myanmar reported that the ministry of religious affairs and culture had agreed to implement the project.

The report, citing Aung Kyaw, the director of Bagan's ancient culture department, said JICA will submit a detailed proposal to the government by the end of September.

“We agreed, according to the policy. We need management plans to arrange the project,” Aung Kyaw was quoted as saying.

He added that on of the viewpoints would see a bank being built up on the fringes of the natural Nyaung Lat Phat pond near Sulamani temple, which would allow the ancient monuments to be protected.

On Sunday an official from the ministry told Anadolu Agency by phone that the project could be implemented in 2017 at the earliest.

“Some 45 temples in Bagan were seriously damaged by the quake. Among them , old temples where visitors used to climb for sunrise and sunset,” said the official, who asked not to be named as he had no authority to speak to media.

“That’s why senior officials have given the green light."

Hundreds of ancient monuments -- including 397 temples and pagodas in Bagan -- were damaged or destroyed by the magnitude 6.8 earthquake, which struck 208 kilometers (129 miles) northwest of Myanmar’s second largest city Mandalay on Aug. 24.

Tremors were felt as far away as Thailand, Bangladesh and eastern India, and at least four people, including two young girls aged 7 and 15, were killed.

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