Kanchanaburi Seeking Recognition Of Death Railway As World Heritage Site

Kanachaburi is working to get the historically significant Burma Railway, more commonly known as the Death Railway, which already has a Museum the national memorial in Thai near Hellfire Pass, as a World Heritage Site. To that end, a public hearing was held early May at the River Kwai Hotel in the province, so that local officials, led by Kanchanaburi Governor Jirakiat Poomsawat, could hear the ideas of the residents.

According to a survey made by the Kanchanaburi Cultural Office and the Rajabhat Kanchanaburi University, about 52% of the locals backed the proposal forwarded by the national committee formed to handle the protection of cultural world heritage sites. Said proposal would have the Death Railway recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Being a World Heritage Site means that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), will recognise the site has having cultural, historical, scientific or other kind of significance and subject to protection under international treaties.

The proposal, which was backed by the Fine Arts Department, was first proposed back in February 2014, by the national committee. The Death Railway already had a Museum the national memorial in Thai dedicated to it and its storied history, and the committee was looking to secure UNESCO Recognition for it and 10 other sites across the country, as explained by Kanchanaburi’s Chief Cultural Official, Pisun Chanslip. Following the public hearing, the relevant authorities prepared a report for the application of the Death Railway as a World Heritage Site.

The 415-kilometre Burma Railway, known more ominously as the Death Railway, was built back in World War II by the Empire of Japan, using forced labour from Allied prisoners as well as Southeast Asian labourers. The line originally linked Ratchaburi in Thailand, and Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar. The rail line was closed back in 1947, but the section located between Nong Pla Duk in Ratchaburi and Nam Tok in Kanchanaburi was reopened a decade later.

One of the most notable sections of the line is the world-famous Bridge on the River Kwai which, as the name implies, crosses the Khwae Yai River and attracts tourists yearly.

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