France passes a law to restore gutted Notre Dame within 5 years

Paris: French lawmakers on Friday approved a law aimed at outlining measures to restore, within the next five years, the famed Notre Dame Cathedral that sustained great damage in a fire last month.

“We will rebuild Notre Dame de Paris… We will not confuse speed with haste. We must offer Notre Dame a restoration worthy of its splendor,” Xinhua news agency quoted France’s Culture Minister Franck Riester as saying.

“At certain points, it is urgent to intervene, at others we will take the time to reflect. The current situation of Notre Dame imposes these two approaches and this law manages to reconcile them,” he added.

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Rebuilding the 850-year-old French gothic architecture in five years is an “ambitious timeframe,” Riester said, but “we want to move quickly. Some have accused us of wanting to move too quickly but the outpouring of generosity was very fast so we can and must respond, which is what we are doing.”

The law provides a legal framework for the donations to guarantee transparency. Till date, more than one billion euros (1.124 billion U.S. dollars) worth of donations have been received to restore and preserve the ancient monument and “to finance the training of professionals with the specific skills that will be required for the work,” Xinhua reported.

The law also outlines the creation of a public body that will allow the French government to override regulations on planning, environmental and heritage protection, and public tenders in order “to facilitate the achievement of restoration work as soon as possible and in satisfactory safety conditions.”

“There are very precise rules that apply to the restoration of heritage buildings and property, which are formalized in the code on cultural heritage and which correspond to France’s excellence in this field,” Riester said.

On the night of April 15, the bells in the famous spire of the Cathedral had not yet rung by the time of the first fire alarm, at 6:21 p.m., but five minutes later. The bells had sounded at 6:04 p.m. to announce the regular Mass at 6:15 p.m, French authorities said.

Nearly two-thirds of the roof of the 850-year-old French gothic architecture was severely damaged by the devastating fire. However, the cause of the fire has yet to be identified.

The Cathedral, whose construction began in 1160 and continued over a century, has been a World Heritage Site since 1991 and receives around 13 million visitors every year.


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