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Private building on heritage site property

  • Construction poses threat to treasures of Basantapur Durbar Square
- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

Nov 23, 2017-A private building being built in the “property zone” of Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square could poses a serious threat to the treasures located at the Unesco World Heritage site, experts have warned. 

The Department of Archaeology (DoA) has already said the construction breaches the norms of heritage sites. 

Maharjan Business Associates Pvt Ltd constructing the building digging a basement spreading over 627.98 square metres of land on the north-west part of the Juddha statue which is located just at the entry point of Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square from New Road. 

The digging could harm treasures that date back to the Malla era “Construction with basements is not allowed near any heritage site,” said Aruna Nakarmi, chief supervision officer of Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square which is also known as Basantapur Durbar Square. The Ancient Monument Preservation Act 2013 doesn’t allow construction of underground structures near heritage sites. 

The building where treasures are stored has already received numerous cracks due to ongoing construction, according to locals.

Nakarmi said the distance between the place where treasures are stored and the construction site is barely 50 metres. Besides, the building is being constructed violating the government criteria. 

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) on October 3, 2016 had granted permission to the company to construct the company under a special provision.  While granting permission, the KMC had said the height of the building should not exceed 35 feet. But the building is set to stand 42-foot tall. Similarly, the KMC had strictly told the company that each floor should not be bigger than 7.7 feet, but a report of engineers of the Kathmandu Valley Development Authority (KVDA) and the KMC shows all the floors are larger than 10.7 feet. 

After repeated complaints and protests by locals, a group of experts had carried out a study under the DoA. 

After the assessment of the building, a combined meeting under Chief District Officer (CDO) Kedar Nath Sharma on September 6 had recommended further action. 

The meeting was held in the presence of DoA Director General Bhesh Narayan Dahal, KVDA chief Bhai Kaji Tiwari and KMC Executive Director Dhaniram Poudel. 

Suresh Shrestha, head of the World Heritage Conservation section at the DoA, said the department has been requesting the KVDA and the KMC to halt construction works.  

KMC’s Poudel told the Post that the issue has now been taken up to the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of the Authority. “We have already instructed the company to stop construction works,” he said.  

However, locals say construction work is going on inside the building which has been covered from all sides. 

“The owner is not paying attention to our concerns; we are planning to send letter to Unesco. If that also does not work, we will stage hunger strike,” said Ganapati Lal Shrestha, a local, who is also campaigning for saving the heritage sites. 

The building registered in the name of Krishna Maharjan. 

Before the April 25, 2015 earthquake, there used to be a hotel. After the quake damaged the hotel building, it was demolished.

Published: 23-11-2017 07:38

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