Bamyan historic sites need protection, maintenance
BAMYAN CITY (Pajhwok): Cultural activists in central Bamyan province say they are concerned about a dilapidated condition of historic sites as some people use ancient caves as stable.
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 declined in recent years due to growing insecurity in Bamyan and neighboring provinces. To realize Bamyan’s tourism potential, the activists insist on beefed up security.
The activists also accuse government authorities of negligence in protection and maintenance of historic sites. They warn if proper attention is not paid, the sites may extinct.
Ali Raza Hussaini, a cultural activist, told Pajhwok Afghan News that heavy rains, natural disasters and the lack of maintenance and care had caused damages to historic sites in the province and the sites faced the danger of extinction.
“The Qul Akram locality where some ancient caves exist is registered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO, but local residents keep their household animals in the carves,” he said.
The 5th century historical marvels -- dotting the checkered landscape of Bamyan -- have been a major haunt for foreign tourists. However, the monuments have been in a state of neglect in recent years.
Necessary arrangements for rehabilitation of one of the destroyed Buddha statues have been put in place with UNESCO help.
Governor Mohammad Zahir Wahdat hoped rehabilitation of the statue would help revive cultural heritage and play an important role in the province economic development by attracting more tourists.
That was why local authorities strived to muster support of UNESCO and other donors for rehabilitation of the statue, he said. “Our efforts for reconstruction of the centuries-old statues are part of the city’s cultural master plan.”
Esmatullah, a resident of Qul Akram locality, said cave dwellers were in terrible economic conditions and they used the caves as stable.
He said families living in the caves did not know about history of the places therefore not concerned about their protection.
Thousands of cave-dwellers near the Taliban-dynamited Buddha statues wallow in abject poverty and unemployment.
Around 3,000 caves are dotted around the famous Buddha statues, inhabited by 250 families from Bamyan and other provinces. Caught up in grinding poverty, the people living here do not have other shelters.
Some of the caves at the base of the statues were used by the Taliban for storing weapons. Later on, destitute civilians used the rock structures as their abodes. For nearly three centuries, the Buddhists lived in the caves.
But Abdul Hamid Jalya, in charge of the historic sites protection, said some cave-dwellers in the Qul Akram locality used the historic caves as shelter for their animal and there were unaware of the caves importance.
He acknowledged rains and natural disasters hit hard the historic sites and the authorities paid no attention to their preservation.
He said tourists would not visit Bamyan if the historic sites vanished due to the lack attention.
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