According to a report from the Government of Bangladesh received by the World Heritage Centre on 3 February 2005, a number of steps have been taken by the State Party, in close cooperation with the World Heritage Centre, to address the recommendations made by the UNESCO mission of October 2002. These include:
a) The development of an inventory of all the terracotta plaques, which should be completed by March 2005;
b) The production of 26 shelves to restore the terracotta plaques in an appropriate manner (the UNESCO Mission requested these shelves to “exhibit” the plaques);
c) Sign boards have been installed at the property;
d) The holding of a Workshop on the elaboration of an Archaeological research Strategy for Parhapur, in Dhaka, from 25 to 25 March 2004 (a report on this activity has been already presented to the Committee at its 28th session);
e) The organization of a training activity on the conservation of the Terracotta plaques, from 22 October to 15 November 2004, addressed to technical staff from the Department of Archaeology. This was carried out through a request for training activities approved by the Committee at its 27th session (UNESCO, 2003), for an amount of USD 35,000. A preparatory meeting for organizing this Workshop was held in Dhaka and Paharpur from 27 September to 3 October 2004 within the framework of the France-UNESCO Convention, involving the World Heritage Centre, the UNESCO Office in Dhaka and the Department of Archaeology, Bangladesh;
f) As regards the appointment of at least five additional Ansars (Semi Armed Security force), the Ministry of Cultural Affairs is pursuing the matter, which is still not finalized;
g) With regard to the need to study the effectiveness of existing drainage systems and ways of improving them, a Technical Co-operation request for a “Study of Existing Drainage Problems and Monitoring the Internal Moisture Conditions of the Monument” for the Paharpur property (US$ 40,000) had been submitted to the Committee at its 28th session. Unfortunately, due to budgetary constraints, the Committee could not approve the request and requested the State Party to re-submit it in 2005. The authorities of Bangladesh did so, but increased the amount of the request to USD 45,000 to take into account the recommendations of the Advisory Bodies. This request will be examined by the Committee at its 29th session.
Finally, the moratorium concerning major conservation works at the Paharpur Monastery has continued.
Moreover, on 1 February 2005 the World Heritage Centre received two further requests concerning the organization of training activities in moulding techniques for the terracotta plaques and in computerized management of collections. Considering the limited resources under the World Heritage Fund, these requests were submitted by the World Heritage Centre for possible funding to the French Government under the France-UNESCO Convention.
With regard to the above-mentioned report, ICOMOS noted the significant efforts made by the State Party in addressing the long-term conservation of the terracotta plaques. It commented, however, that priority questions of property security and improving property drainage remain outstanding. ICOMOS is also concerned by two important related issues as follows:
No reference in the various reports is made to the strengthening of the management regime for the property;
The statement of significance proposed by the State Party in preparing the 2003 Periodic Report falls far short of capturing the sources of the outstanding universal value of this property. As site management efforts must be built to strengthen and ensure respect for these values in decision-making, this statement of significance should be strengthened.
On the other hand, the State Party should be encouraged to prepare and implement a management regime for the property according to the values recognized by the Committee at the time of designation.
In March 2005, finally, the World Heritage Centre received information from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Bangladesh concerning the installation of a high telephone tower in the vicinity of Paharpur World Heritage property. The tower, erected at approximately 600 metres from the Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara, falls within an area which, according to the management provisions contained in the original nomination file, should have been placed under special protection (the extent of the buffer zone for this property was never clearly defined). The World Heritage Centre requested the Bangladesh authorities to provide further information on the visual impact of the tower on the landscape value of the property.