National

Singha Durbar rebuilding to begin from year-end

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 6, 2018-

The task of restoring the main building of Singha Durbar—the country’s administrative hub—is set to begin before the year-end, as the National Reconstruction Authority has decided to retrofit the iconic building that housed the Office of the Prime Minister before the 2015 earthquake inflicted heavy damage to it.

The move to renovate the structure is in line with a report submitted by a Nepali consultancy that was assigned to study whether the historic property can be retrofitted or needs to be rebuilt completely.

The rebuilding authority is preparing to begin construction based on the consultancy’s recommendations.

“The consultants have concluded that the structure of the building is completely safe, which means it can be brought to use by retrofitting,” NRA Joint-secretary Rajuman Manandhar told the Post.

The report states that two of the rooms in the building were destroyed as the wooden beam supporting them broke from the impact of the quake. Some of the building’s corners also sustained significant damage. Most of the visible cracks have not impacted the main structure including the beam, according to the report.

While officials are certain that the building will be retrofitted, they are not clear about the funding. “The consultant will provide additional details including the cost and time estimates soon,” Manandhar said, adding that the authority was preparing to invite contractors to express their interests in undertaking the renovation. “The Expression of Interest will be called within two weeks.”

According to the NRA joint-secretary, the contractor will be given 15 to 18 months to complete the task. Manandhar said the project would be completed within the stipulated time from its start as most of the stakeholders were convinced with the findings of the study.

Earlier, Digicon Engineering Consult Pvt Ltd—a consultant commissioned by the Ministry of Urban Development to study eight historical buildings— had recommended rebuilding the structure, claiming that retrofitting would be inadequate.

Those standing against demolition of the building had argued that the consultant had reached the conclusion without even testing the bricks and soil used in the structure built in 1908. Subsequently, the government had formed a seven-member committee to oversee reconstruction of the western part of Singha Durbar.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was also concerned about restoring the Singha Durbar. Soon after he took office in February, the PM’s Office summoned NRA officials for clarification. The authority then submitted a report to the prime minister, clarifying the matter. The NRA spent Rs20 million on the recent study. Built by Rana prime minister Chandra Shumsher, the historic building housed several government agencies including the National Planning Commission until the disaster. The palace has more than 1,000 rooms. It was repaired after a massive fire engulfed the building in 1973.

Published: 06-11-2018 07:34

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