Violations at heritage sites rampant in Vietnam
  • | tienphong, | March 14, 2018 07:23 AM
 >>  Ministry demands removal of illegal walkway in Trang An Complex
 >>  Regulations flouted as unlicensed walkway built in Trang An Complex
Building unlicensed constructions in protected areas and maintaining and upgrading heritage sites without permits are becoming more common as punishments are still too lax.


A walkway illegally built at the UNESCO's World Heritage Site Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province

In 2015, a three-storey building was constructed without authorisation on a protected area of the Huong Pagoda Complex. As Huong Pagoda Complex was recognised as a national heritage site in 1962, any construction in protected areas needs to be approved by the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, not the local authorities. In the end, the authorities only removed some decorations.

In late 2017, Khuc Thuy Pagoda in Hanoi which has been recognised as a national heritage site, had a new kitchen built, while the rooms and the decorations inside were completely changed. Simultaneously more than 100 antique Buddhist statues were not cared for. Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports asked the pagoda management to restore the pagoda.

Unlicensed constructions being built in relic and heritage site are becoming a worrying problem. Recently, a huge illegal walkway was nearly completed at the UNESCO's World Heritage Site Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province.

The walkway was not fully completed in accordance with the original plan and has yet to receive a safety check by state agencies but thousands of visitors have used it to reach the mountaintop. Trang An Tourism Company have demanded the removal of the walkway, but for some reason, the construction was left until almost completed.

Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism's vice inspector Pham Xuan Phuc asked local authorities to halt operation of Trang An Tourism Company. He went on to say that according to the law on heritage organisations face fines of VND80m for such violations.

Phuc said he was still waiting for a decision from the local authorities because he didn't want to just fine Trang An Company and keep the walkway. Deputy Minister Dang Thi Bich Lien directed Ninh Binh authorities to strictly deal with the walkway violation on March 8.

Truong Quoc Binh, a member of National Heritage Council, said this looked like a case of forced acceptance. The construction was discovered six months ago but nothing was done until it was completed and used. The local Department of Tourism and the Department of Culture and Sports don't have the management authority over the site. Hoa Lu District authorities and Ninh Binh People's Committee basically ignored the Department of Tourism's reports.

"This should be viewed as a serious crime," he said. "No one has been jailed yet so the violations are getting worse."

He went on to say that local authorities must take responsibility and violators must spend their own money to restore the site.

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