Scientists urge repairs to Vietnam’s damaged UNESCO-recognized complex
Local historians, relic conservationists and archeologists have just petitioned to the government in unison to undo the extensive damage to the core area of UNESCO-recognized Thang Long Imperial Citadel in downtown Hanoi.
Scientists from the Associations of Historical Sciences, Cultural Heritage Conservation, and Archeology unanimously signed a petition to the government last Friday regarding the urgency of repairing the current damage to the relic complex’s C-D area.
The scientists maintained that the area, the core of the relic complex, has spiraled out of relic conservation agencies’ supervision after the Management Board of the construction project on the National Assembly Building nearby began building a fire exit road bordering the relic complex.
The construction project management board has treated the relic complex disrespectfully and done untold damage to it, which is a breach on Vietnam’s Heritage Law and UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The scientists' survey last week revealed that a major part of the fire exit road bordering the relic has been completed. A concrete wall, which is roughly four meters tall, now lies right next to the relic complex’s excavation sites.
A number of sewage pipes have also been dug into the relic’s property.
The reckless construction has inundated excavation pits with water, leaving relics and artifacts inside the pits alarmingly eroding and decaying.
Without the supervision of conservation officials, the area was turned into a messy construction site, with building materials, rubbish and workers’ restrooms spoiling the area.
As construction workers and trucks can move freely around the area, damage to and even loss of the treasured artifacts are inevitable.
“We strongly urge that the government and concerned agencies take drastic action to stop the violations on the Thang Long Imperial Citadel. In our opinion, without prompt, effective remedies, the complex will receive UNESCO’s warnings and face the risk of having its recognition withdrawn,” the scientists wrote in their petition.
A May 2014 meeting heard that a fire exit road needed to be built as part of the new National Assembly Building.
The road would encroach on the Thang Long Imperial Citadel by roughly 450m².
Scientists from the three associations strongly objected to the proposal, maintaining that it would seriously violate Vietnam’s Heritage Law and UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
However, to complete the new National Assembly Building in time, the Scientific Consulting Council came up with a reconciling approach that a “soft border” between the relic complex and the National Assembly Building would be erected.
The construction unit was also requested not to dig over one meter into the ground to avoid encroaching on the complex.
The scientists asserted in their Friday petition that the construction unit has failed to comply with these terms.
They insisted that measures be taken to safeguard the exposed relics and sand be put over the unexcavated ones to protect them from further harm.
The construction project’s management board also needs to be put under the strict supervision of relic conservation agencies, while workers’ housing compartments and restrooms need to be moved out of the area immediately, the scientists urged.
The imposing Thang Long Imperial Citadel in Hanoi, one of the country’s momentous relics, was initially built during the Ly Dynasty and subsequently expanded by the Tran, Le and Nguyen Dynasties. The core area of the imperial citadel was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
The royal palaces and most of the structures in the complex were in deteriorating condition by the late 19th and 20th centuries. Only in the 21st century did systematic excavations begin on its ruined foundations.
Tuoi Tre News - July 23, 2014