Bình Định suspends thousand-year-old tower restoration project

March, 15/2022 - 15:39

The project to restore Bánh Ít Tower, a 1,000-year-old Chăm relic in Bình Định Province has been halted after locals expressed concerns about damage caused to the ancient tower's structure.

The construction unit allows the excavator to work on the Bánh Ít Tower relic. VNA/VNS Photo

BÌNH ĐỊNH — The project to restore Bánh Ít Tower, a 1,000-year-old Chăm relic in Bình Định Province has been halted after locals expressed concerns about damage caused to the ancient tower's structure.

The construction unit of the restoration project has faced public criticism for allowing motor vehicles to enter the strictly protected area of the monument, using unburned bricks to build flower beds around the tower, rough digging in many areas, and failing to send cultural experts to supervise the work.

The flower beds built around the base of the tower does not match the landscape of the ancient relic. VNA/VNS Photo Tường Quân
The foot of the tower is hollow due to the process of levelling and digging by excavators. VNA/VNS Photo Tường Quân

Lâm Hải Giang, vice chairman of the Provincial People's Committee, has ordered the suspension of  construction and restoration work related to the tower yards of the Bánh Ít Tower relic.

On March 10, two inspection teams of the Provincial Department of Culture and Sports and the Provincial Department of Construction also visited the site, considering all construction measures and handling solutions to protect and promote value of the monument.

They said that the project aims to restore and promote the value of the relic, with the purpose of embellishing the landscape and infrastructure to meet the aesthetic requirements and serve the needs of visitors to the cultural heritage areas of Bình Định Province.

Some remedial measures and changes have been made, such as: stopping construction with excavators and removing them from the construction site; constructing new soil and laterite paving at the foot of the Gate Tower; request Provincial People's Committee for permission not to build flower beds around the foot of the tower; only pave laterite stone in the tower yard to about 0.5 metre from the foot of the tower to plant grass; and dismantle the concrete slab on the main tower yard.

Many newly built items have been demolished. VNA/VNS Photo Tường Quân

As reported by the Vietnam News Agency, the project of building, restoring and promoting the relic value at Bánh Ít Tower, invested by the Department of Culture and Sports of Bình Định Province, began September 2021 with a total budget of about VNĐ25.6 billion (US$1.12 million).

On March 4, 2022, this project was found to have used the wrong construction method contrary to the approved plan.

It was found that the construction unit used excavators inside the protection ring of the monument, and many construction items do not match the value of thousands of years old ancient relics.

Bánh ít Tower before renovation. VNA/VNS Photo

On March 8, the Department of Cultural Heritage (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) asked the Department of Culture and Sports of Bình Định Province to direct relevant agencies to find solutions to protect the relic, review construction measures to ensure that it does not affect the original monument and landscape and send a report to the Ministry.

Bánh It Tower, also known as Bạc (Silver) Tower, was built around the 10th century, and is one of the well-preserved Chăm towers in Bình Định Province.

It was classified as a national architectural art relic in 1982, and was listed in the “1,001 Việt Nam ancient architectural sites to visit” by a group of British authors. — VNS

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