Plans to construct a new airport close to the UNESCO-listed site of Machu Picchu have ignited controversy both in Peru and among the world’s archaeological community. There is fear that increased air traffic could harm the already fragile site, but Peruvian officials say construction will go ahead.
Plans to construct a new airport close to the UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu have sparked controversy both in Peru and among the world’s archaeological community, The Guardian reports.
Construction work has already begun on the facility in Chinchero, a town that is located in Peru’s Cusco Region, the area in which this ancient site is located. Currently, air traffic in the region is handled by Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ), which is unable to accommodate larger craft due to its limited runway.
This proposed new airport would allow for increased international air traffic into the area, something that critics say could jeopardize and even damage the already fragile ruins of Machu Picchu.
Speaking frankly to the outlet, Natalia Majluf, a historian of Peruvian art at Cambridge University, said, “This is a built landscape; there are terraces and routes which were designed by the Incas. Putting an airport here would destroy it.”
Majluf has started a petition against the construction of the facility.
Pablo Del Valle, an anthropologist based in Cusco, added, “It seems ironic and in a way contradictory that here, just 20 minutes from the Sacred Valley, the nucleus of the Inca culture, they want to build an airport – right on top of exactly what the tourists have come here to see.”
It also appears that locals are divided on the subject. Speaking to the outlet, resident Alejandrina Contreras said, “We live peacefully here, there are no thieves, there are no criminals. There will be progress with the airport but a lot of things will change.”
Karen Auccapuma, another resident, said, “Think of the noise, the air pollution, the illnesses it will bring.”
However, Peruvian finance minister Carlos Oliva spoke out last month to declare the government’s staunch support for the project.
“This airport will be built as soon as possible because it’s very necessary for the city of Cusco. There’s a series of technical studies which support this airport’s construction,” he said.
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