The Taliban launched the construction of a tourist complex at the foot of the Bamiyan Buddhas

Unesco said it was not consulted on the project, contrary to what the Taliban claimed, and expressed concern about the effects of its construction on this historic site.

This is a project that feeds strong concerns. The Taliban launched the construction of a tourist complex a few meters from the cliff where the statues of Buddhas are located in Bamiyan, in Afghanistan, reports. The Guardian. According to archaeologists and experts, this could cause permanent damage to this fragile and precious World Heritage site.

The goal of the Taliban is to “rebuild” a historic bazaar, which was destroyed during the civil war in 1990. The area will thus become a tourist center with restaurants, guest houses, parking lots , public toilets and craft and grocery stores.

One of Afghanistan’s Greatest Treasures

However, this ruined bazaar itself is a historical place that can be placed on top of the older ruins. And above all, it is also close to the cliff that shelters the caves of the Buddhist monasteries, one of the greatest treasures of Afghanistan.

“This old bazaar is in the archaeological buffer zone of the World Heritage Site and Unesco has never favored the use of this area”, stated with Guardian a diplomat specializing in Afghanistan’s heritage issues, who asked to remain anonymous.

“On the contrary, these buildings are located in the middle of an archaeological site, and the buildings themselves are somehow part of the heritage of the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. So their reconstruction is sensitive “, he completed.

New influx of tourists and cars

In 2001, the Taliban destroyed two giant statues that had dominated the valley for more than a millennium. After the destruction, Mullah Omar said that he was “proud of all the Taliban who participated in destroying this unholy terror that resembles a religion for degenerates”.

On the other hand, the niches where they are located as well as the frescoes and other remains that have survived continue to give the site a world heritage importance.

The main road crossing Bamiyan was moved a few years ago to limit the vibrations, traffic consequences. This new project of the Taliban will bring a large influx of people and vehicles back to a vulnerable area, which is officially designated as protected.

“The caravanserais should be used as guesthouses, for tourists to spend the night there, and as places to display local handicrafts, for the provision of public toilets and parking lots,” he said. .

Unesco was not consulted and concerned

Mawlawi Saifurrahman Mohammadi spoke at an inauguration attended by senior Taliban officials, including Bamiyan Governor Abdullah Sarhadi. On this occasion, they laid foundation stones to symbolize the beginning of the work.

Mohammadi said several strict construction checks were carried out to respect the vulnerability of the site. These include limiting single-story buildings, restricting the use of concrete, and controlling the type of stones and plaster used.

He added that the project was approved by Unesco. “The central government negotiated with Unesco and they gave us instructions on how to proceed,” he said. But Unesco, which has been monitoring World Heritage sites including Bamiyan for decades, said it was not consulted on the project and did not authorize “reconstruction” from the bazaar.

“UNESCO was not asked or associated with this project, which is located in the center of the archaeological site and could be a problem for the proper conservation of the World Heritage site,” he said in a statement.

Return the “stolen land”

Governor Sarhadi said he decided to start the reconstruction after shop owners came to petition him. They said that their land was robbed when it was classified as a heritage area and reconstruction was prohibited.

“We will not allow people to steal their land here,” he said. “People can’t get their (legitimate) stuff, now is the time to give it back.”

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