|"Director Kishore Rao noted that the construction of the National Assembly House and surrounding wall could be causing irreparable damage to the site, which might pose a potential threat to the authenticity and Outstanding Universal Value of this World Heritage property.' — Photo baodatviet.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — The director of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre has officially asked Viet Nam to verify and provide more information concerning the ongoing construction next to the site of the Thang Long Citadel, which was placed on the World Heritage List in 2010.
In a document sent to the ambassador and permanent delegate of Viet Nam to UNESCO Paris last Friday, Duong Van Quang, the UNESCO Ha Noi Office and the National Commission of Viet Nam for UNESCO, Director Kishore Rao noted that the construction of the National Assembly House and surrounding wall could be causing irreparable damage to the site, which might pose a potential threat to the authenticity and Outstanding Universal Value of this World Heritage property.
It also highlighted issues related to the management of the citadel that might impact the property's upkeep.
On July 18, the Viet Nam Association of Historical Sciences, the Viet Nam Cultural Heritage Association and the Vietnamese Archaeologists Association appealed to the Prime Minister that ongoing construction of the National Assembly House threatened the World Heritage status of the archaeological site next door.
"Obviously, this issue is filled with concerns," said head of the Vietnamese Archaeologists Association, Tong Trung Tin.
"However, I'd like to make it clear that UNESCO's request for an explanation is unlikely to mean that it will be taken off the list of World Heritage Sites next year. To some extent, this wake up call gives us the chance to resolve the incident and draw extremely important lessons for the conservation of heritage sites.
"I hope that all parties concerned can get together to discuss and put forward solutions, immediate and long-term, to protect this heritage site," added Tin.
"That's the only thing we can do at the moment. If we address it seriously and scientifically, I'm convinced that UNESCO will appreciate our efforts and goodwill, and sympathise with our cause."
A week later, the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO required parties concerned to make a report to the Prime Minister and rectify reported wrongdoings as soon as possible. According to the commission, it was likely that UNESCO would send over an international delegation to assess the situation and raise the issue at a meeting in July next year.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on Monday called for the Ministry of Construction to request relevant authorities to repair the damage to Zones C and D at the archaeological site.
Vice chairperson of the municipal People's Committee, Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc, said on Tuesday the city had worked with the culture ministry to press the project's management board to clear up construction materials around the citadel in the next couple of days.
As the raining season peaks, drainage at the site must be ready and well prepared, Ngoc said.
"More importantly, uncovered excavation pits must be filled with sand to help preserve any relics inside them. Some pits are roofed so they are not inundated with rain water.
This work will be undertaken by the Institute of Archaeology." — VNS