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Preservation of Buddha's Birthplace Provokes Disputes

Whether to build constructions to protect the birthplace of Sakyamuni, founder of Buddhism, or just to keep it in its original state aroused furious disputes among representatives attending the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee being held in Suzhou, east China's Jiangsu Province.

Located in southern Nepal, Lumbini is a famous Buddhist holy land as Queen Maya Devi gave birth there to Siddhartha Gautam, later Sakyamuni, in the sixth century B.C. in Suzhou. Now the central focus at Lumbini is the two-floor Maya Devi temple.

Lumbini was listed as a World Cultural Heritage site in 1997. To better protect the site, the Nepal government built some shelter constructions recently, which aroused disagreement among representatives attending the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee.

To build constructions nearby a world heritage site, the local government should submit a proposal to the committee first, said Jade Tabet, a representative from Lebanon, at the meeting specially discussing listing some world heritage sites whose protection is being disputed in the "List of World Heritage in Danger".

For Jade Tabet, the new buildings have damaged the value of Lumbini as a World Heritage site, so he proposed to remove Lumbini from the World Heritage list.

"The new building has destroyed the whole sight of Lumbini with its unseemly size, color and material," said the representative from the ICOMOS.

"The birthplace of Buddha is a holy site, whose protection should be attached great importance. An imprudent decision may lead to a sad consequence," he said.

"We have issued many limitations to the new projects under construction at Lumbini, and further measures are expected to be taken in the future," said the director of the archaeological department of the administration of culture, tourism and civil aviation of Nepal.

It was eventually decided to not list Lumbini as a World Heritage site in Danger at this meeting.
(Xinhua News Agency July 8, 2004)


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