Pablo Porciuncula Brune / AFP / Getty Images
After decades of thinking and planning, the Peruvian government has broken into a multi-billion dollar airport that is expected to link Machu Picchu, the nation's jewel history, easier outside of the world. But conservationists were angry at the potential impact of a massive, international international facility on the ancient site and surrounding rural communities.
The impressive Inca, designated as the UNESCO World Heritage site, was built in the 15th century in the opaque peaks of the Peruvian Andes. On average, about one million people a year visit to get to the top of the fort, which remains hard to reach. Changing unremitting airports in Cusco, about 75 miles from Machu Picchu, will change by allowing direct international flights to the heart of the Peruvian tourism industry.
The construction of the controversial Chinchero International Airport began earlier this year and the bulldozers cleaned the Sacred Valley's mouth site to make a gleaming new structure expected to be the second largest and most modern hub of the country, accommodating more than 7 million passengers per year.
Abel Traslaviña, an archaeologist of Peru and Ph.D. a student at the Department of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University, says the airport shows an irreversible threat to weak areas of ruins and surrounding areas.
He is one of nearly 50,000 people, including archaeologists, historians and anthropologists, who signed an online petition launched by art historian Natalia Majluf, who urged President Martín Vizcarra to block plans for airport and find it new home.
"The airport planned to be built in Chinchero, Cusco, threatens the conservation of one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in the world," the petition said. "An airport in the Holy Valley environment will affect the integrity of a complex Inca landscape and cause irreparable damage due to noise, traffic and no urbanization control."
Traslaviña described the outskirts of Cusco and the charming city of Inca of Chinchero as an unspoiled scene. The ancient terraced pastures, dotted with small huts occupied by llama herders, reached between two districts, he told NPR. The local economy lies largely on tourism, production of fabrics and farming. "The Royal Road, called Capac Man, is not a site, protected by UNESCO but it is such a great landscape," says Traslaviña, a 500-year-old path that is considered "the greatest engineering achievement of the pre-Hispanic Americas. "
For conservationists, terraces themselves are significant in archaeological, such as stepped granite roads that connect them. The opponents also say that new airplane routes will lead to low flying flight to Ollantaytambo, containing another century-old city of Inca.
According to Traslaviña, technical surveys of the Ministry of Culture region, have lost at least four similar roads crossing the area. It also failed to remember nearby lakes, terraces and animals that were affected by construction, he said.
But government officials dispute these arguments.
Following reports by The Guardian about continued protests against the president in May, Vizcarra said that years of research has prevented any negative environmental impacts.
A number of studies and tests have been conducted over the past 15 years, Vizcarra told reporters. "It's not an improvisation," he exclaimed, adding, "The Chinchero Airport moves early!"
Government officials trust the public that they are approaching the project "with transparency and with the highest quality standards."
Minister of Transportation Edmer Trujillo said, the process follows construction laws.
They also argue an airport is a necessity that can not be put off any longer. Hotelier Juan Stoessel, vice president of the Cusco tourism agency, told El Comercio that existing airports had "poorly located within the city, it was impossible to expand and reach the limit of operation at three or four years. "
Stoessel added that it can not support the future growth of tourists.
Traslaviña is saddened by that logic, keeping Machu Picchu in the tops of the turmoil, filled with so many tourists. As the Inca built it to occupy fewer than 1,000 people at any given time, in 2016 more than 1.4 million people climbed the steps of Machu Picchu.
These are years since the government spent the daily maximum number of visitors more than twice the number recommended by UNESCO.