At its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008), the World Heritage Committee had requested the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and to continue its work on the integrated management plan (IMP), incorporating the recommendations of the 2005 mission. A time-framed programme of activities to this end was expected. The World Heritage Committee had also requested the State Party to avoid carrying out any development project pending completion of the IMP.
On 30 January 2009, the State Party submitted a report outlining progress as follows:
a) Draft an updated Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, including the conditions of authenticity and integrity and Progress on the preparation of an IMP:
With support through International Assistance under the World Heritage Fund, a draft outline for the IMP has been prepared and is being reviewed. This focuses on the conservation of the property, but includes consideration of two sites, presently on the Tentative List of Nepal, that are closely associated with the life of Lord Buddha - Ramagrama, the Relic Stupa of the Lord Buddha, and Tilaurakot, the Archaeological remains of the Ancient Shakya (the father of the Lord Buddha) Kingdom. The process for the development of the IMP will follow that which was used for the Kathmandu Valley property, i.e. will be driven by those responsible for its implementation (that is the Lumbini Development Trust and the Department of Archaeology) and include extensive consultations with all stakeholders.
The IMP draft presented during the April 2008 start up workshop for the IMP in Lumbini contained a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, offered at that time for discussion to the Lumbini Development Trust, and all stakeholders.
b) Avoid carrying out any development project pending completion of the IMP
The report noted that the no development works have been carried out within the boundaries and the buffer zone of the property pending the completion of the management plan, except for a temporary toilet for visitors, constructed at the edge of the buffer zone. Fencing around the property has been enlarged to protect it from animal and human disturbance.
c) Develop a strategy to ensure the long-term protection of the significant archaeological remains of the property
The report also noted that further work on excavation of the surrounding levee has been undertaken, under the strict supervision of the Lumbini Chief Archaeologist. The area to the south west of the buffer zone, the assumed location of the ancient Lumbini village, and the south east and the north parts of the buffer zone, have been identified as potential archaeological areas for possible future excavation. More detailed documentation and monitoring procedures will be integrated within the future IMP.
d) Develop a strategy for the rehabilitation of the Maya Devi temple incorporating the recommendations and the implementation of the corrective measures proposed by the 2005 mission
Various corrective measures on the Maya Devi Temple have been carried out, including the waterproofing of the roof and removal of the external staircases. Access to the roof has been restricted to maintenance. With regard to the removal of the false ceiling inside Maya Devi Temple and its replacement with natural materials such as bamboo plywood, or fabric, and the review of the railings of the roof of Temple, the State Party has suggested that these aspects would be reviewed in the context of the IMP under preparation. With regard to the protection of the archaeological remains, which are threatened by ground water and humidity, the State Party reports that ground water is being regularly monitored, but that the expertise to analyse the data, understand the threats and establish an approach to deal with the ground water and humidity is not available. The State Party has requested UNESCO to provide an expert to study and analyse this problem.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note the progress made with respect to the recommendations contained in the Committee’s decisions of the last few years. However they also note that the State Party report did not include a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, including the conditions of integrity and authenticity, and the requested time-framed programme of activities.
With respect to the IMP, the World Heritage Centre had supported in 2006 the preparation of a comprehensive project for its elaboration, with detailed cost estimates. Presently, resources are been sought to enable the implementation of this important activity. Additional opportunities to mobilise resources for the conservation of Lumbini, including the IMP, are being considered at present, including through a possible project funded under the Japanese Trust Funds with UNESCO and a partnership with the Oriental Cultural Heritage Sites Protection Alliance, an NGO based in France and China. The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu is also exploring a possible cooperation with the Asian Development Bank in the context of a loan to Nepal to foster tourism development related to Buddhist sites in South-Eastern Asia.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are concerned about some proposed development projects, including the enlargement of the existing airport and the construction of a ring road south of Lumbini. Information on these proposed developments was provided by the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu as well as by a group of stakeholders self-named “Lumbini Institutions”, by letter dated 30 October 2008. The ring road, in particular, appears to be located outside the inscribed property and its buffer zone, however it is felt that the project might still have a negative impact on its Outstanding Universal Value, notably through traffic and noise pollution which may affect the sacred character of the area. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that decisions on these proposals should be based on an Environmental Impact Assessment taking into account the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, within the framework of the IMP under preparation.