Valley

After court order, archaeology office starts process to form panel to study Bagh Durbar

  • Kathmandu metropolis, which wanted to demolish the structure, says it will follow the court order
- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

Mar 27, 2019-

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City has been forced to backtrack on its decision  to demolish the historic Bagh Durbar after the Supreme Court ordered the government to form a team of experts under the director general of the Department of Archeology to conduct a study once again and submit a report to the court within 15 days.  

Responding to a petition filed by a group of conservationists, a joint bench of Justices Anil Kumar Singh and Sapana Pradhan Malla on March 20 issued a mandamus order to the government to carry out a study for the reconstruction of the Rana-era palace which suffered damage in the April 25, 2015 earthquake, by forming a team of independent experts.

Ishwor Man Dangol, spokesperson for the metropolis, said they will follow the Supreme Court’s decision. “We will abide by the court’s order,” said Dangol.

Conservationists, however, expressed doubt if the metropolis will completely backtrack on its decision, as it has in the past tried to work on its own without consulting stakeholders and without ensuring participation of the community.

“If the metropolis is serious about this new development, then it’s good. But it has a tendency not to practice what it preaches,” said Alok Siddhi Tuladhar, a cultural activist and one of the leaders of the Save Heritage Campaign, a group of conservationists who are lobbying for the conservation of heritage structures in the Valley.

The top court had issued the order in response to a writ filed by senior advocates Prakashmani Sharma, Ram Panta Kharel, Heritage Conservationist Ganapati Lal  Shrestha and law student Sanjay Adhikari on October 2, 2017.

Two years ago,  the metropolis had unilaterally announced that it would demolish Bagh Durbar despite widespread protests from conservationists and locals.

Also in 2017, the National Reconstruction Authority and the Department of Archaeology had also sent two separate letters to the metropolis, asking it not to implement its decision.

Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya in November 2017 had revealed a new design for Bagh Durbar and wanted to build it as “Hari Bhawan”. He had said the actual Bagh Durbar was not in existence. The metropolis had even allocated Rs1.5 billion for the construction of Bagh Durbar.

Shakya had argued that the cost of retrofitting the ancient building would be higher than “the permissible limit”. He had also announced to demolish the building as it was not 100 years old  and it was under its jurisdiction to demolish the building.

But the court in its last week order has ordered the authorities to preserve the artifacts inside Bagh Durbar.  

When the Post contacted Ram Bahadur Kunwar, spokesperson for the Archeology Department, about its take on court’s verdict, he said the department had started the process to form a study committee.

“We are working to form a team of experts by the next week. The team will again examine the actual structure of Bagh Durbar and submit a report to the Supreme court at the end of June,” said Kunwar.  

He said the department is consulting archeologists, historians, structural engineers, Vastu Consultants and locals.  

Earlier in late November, the top court had issued an order directing the Department of Archaeology to conduct a study on Bagh Durbar and submit a report, but it didn’t follow the court order.

Published: 28-03-2019 07:00

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