Burma’s Ministry of Culture announced that they will enforce fines for the misuse of properties that are designated as culturally significant, according to a statement in state media on Monday.
The announcement, published in Burmese-language daily The Mirror, said that almost all of Burma’s states and regions have places recognised as either ancient, protected or heritage zones.
The three types of protected zones cover a wide range of places in Burma, including several ancient cities. Takaung, Ava [Inwa], Myay Du, and Pinle [Mong Mao] are among 15 ancient cities that will be protected.
Rangoon, the country’s former capital and largest city, has the highest number of heritage buildings, accounting for 16 of 46 nationwide.
Thirty-two primate zones have also been identified in Monywa and Pakkoku districts, where restrictions on development will be applied.
Karenni and Chin states have no ancient, protected or heritage site zones, the ministry’s announcement said. Mount Victoria, the highest peak in Chin State, however, has been nominated for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Fourteen sites in Burma are under consideration for heritage site status, though many others are considered as such by the Ministry of Culture and will enjoy some protections from the government.
The ministry warned that anyone who uses designated zones for the construction of new buildings will be subject to financial penalties. Building restrictions apply to housing, factories, hotels, roadways, electrical and telephone infrastructure, and other construction projects.
As part of broader efforts to preserve the nation’s cultural heritage while allowing for development, the ministry said that although building in protected areas will be limited, plans are in place to support small businesses like restaurants and handicraft outlets.