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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 June 2007, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
UN rules Nepal monuments now safe
By Surendra Phuyal
BBC News, Kathmandu

Boudhanath Stupa in the Kathmandu Valley
The UN praised efforts to conserve the ancient monuments
Archaeology and cultural officials in Nepal have welcomed a decision to remove seven historic monuments from a list of world heritage sites in danger.

The UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) listed seven monuments in the Kathmandu valley as endangered in July 1993.

It said they were being threatened by high-rise constructions.

The Nepalese government has welcomed the latest move, saying it will work harder to conserve ancient buildings.

'Improved management'

The seven ancient monuments removed by Unesco from the list of world heritage sites in danger include the Patan and the Bhaktapur Durbar Squares, two centuries-old Hindu temples and two Buddhist stupas.

The sites were classified as heritage sites in 1979, but Unesco ruled 14 years ago that modern high-rise constructions around them had destroyed their traditional look.

Temple at Budhanilkantha, near Kathmandu
The Kathmandu valley contains many ancient monuments

But a meeting of Unesco's World Heritage Committee in Christchurch, New Zealand, decided on Monday to declassify them because of increased efforts to preserve them.

The Unesco website says that the seven monuments now benefit from "increased resources allocated to the site's museums, improved management and reinforced staff".

The Nepalese Minister for Culture, Prithvi Subba-Gurung, said his government was encouraged by the ruling.

'Joint efforts'

"This is the first really very good thing that has happened since I assumed office (a few months ago)," Mr Subba-Gurung told the BBC News website.

"We have also learned a lesson that we really need to better conserve our historic world heritage sites.

"At the same time we are also very encouraged to conserve the numerous other natural and cultural sites across Nepal that have significance."

The minister also said that the government would take fresh steps to improve and restore other world heritage sites.

These include Lumbini - the birthplace of Buddha - in the south-west of Nepal and the Sagarmatha national park - famous for Mount Everest.

Also of importance is the Chitwan National Park - famous for its endangered Royal Bengal tigers and one-horned rhinos.

A Unesco official in Kathmandu said that the decision reflected "the collective hard work and joint efforts by the UN, the Nepalese government and the communities living near the world heritage sites".

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