UNESCO set to repair Bamyan’s Buddha statues
BAMYAN CITY (Pajhwok): Necessary arrangements for the rehabilitation of one of the destroyed Buddha statues have been put in place, with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) expected to launch work on it soon.
Governor Mohammad Zahir Wahdat hoped the rehabilitation of the statue would help revive the cultural heritage of the province and would play an important role in its economic development by attracting more tourists to Bamyan.
That was why the local authorities strived to muster the support of UNESCO and other donors for the rehabilitation of the statue, he said.“Our efforts for the reconstruction of the centuries-old statues are part of the city’s cultural master plan.”
He said the plan was aimed to protect the cultural opulence of the ancient city and avoid the construction of homes at historical sites. He promised allocating land for shops and markets in proper locations to safeguard Bamyan’s history and add to its beauty.
Bamyan is one of Afghanistan’s historically rich provinces known for the world-renowned Buddha statues carved out thousands of years ago. Band-i-Amir is another beautiful area with a translucent water reservoir.It is the first ever National Park of the country.
According to local officials, the number of tourists has declined in recent years due to growing insecurity in Bamyan and neighboring provinces. To realize the tourism potential of the province, they insist, security has to be beefed up.
Abdul Hamid Jalya, in charge of protecting historical sites, recalled UNESCO had registered in 2003 eight sites in Bamyan -- the Buddhist statues, Ghulghula City, Kakrak Valley, Qul Akram Qul Ghami, caves, Kafir Fortand Duhak City.
He said the high walls Buddha statues were built on had been repaired by UNESCO and work on the small ones was underway.“The Germans rehabilitated the feet of the statue two years back, but the Japanese criticised the work and said the rehabilitation should be conducted properly. The rehabilitation work has since been halted,” he added.
A UNESCO delegation visited the province two years back and sought public opinion on the rehabilitation of the statues.Haji Hussain, an influential local figure, demanded the protection of all monuments in the province -- its cultural identity.
The two statues in Bamyan are deemed to be 1,600 years old, but they were ruthlessly dynamited during the Taliban regime in 2001 when the movement denounced the statues as un-Islamic.
The Sulsa statue was 55 meters high and the Shamama33 meters, situated on the old Silk Road in the northern part of Bamyan City, the provincial capital.
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