Up to a quarter of Hanoi’s cultural and sacred sites – usually temples and pagodas – are being “desecrated” because of the encroachment of people who build their houses or set up shop near them.
Capital treasures fall victim to development [Link no longer active]
Viet Nam News, 18 Feb 2008
Despite being considered sacred and cultural places that must be respected, many temples and pagodas are disappearing under a sea of homes and shops. Many of them are just lean-to additions.
The land surrounding Van Phuc Temple in Ba Dinh District, listed for 20 years as a national heritage building, has been narrowed down by the construction of homes. No public organisations objected to the encroachments.
The Peopleâ€™s Committee in Ba Dinh District, instead of providing solutions or punishing householders who violate heritage-preservation regulations, actually granted permission for construction.
The situation seems to be easily prevented – just don’t allow permits for construction within a certain radius of cultural sites – so it’s a shame to see what are supposed to be temple sites have their sacredness taken away from them. But perhaps the situation’s indicative of larger socio-economic forces out there? Larger population, pehaps? Would any readers based in Vietnam care to comment?