Art experts promise to aid restoration project

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Jun 11, 2015-

Art and crafts experts on Thursday said they were all prepared to support the government in restoring the centuries-old traditional and historical monuments and buildings.

They urged the government to come up with a concrete plan to restore the historical monuments mainly in the Kathmandu valley, which were damaged by the April 25 earthquake, in order to revitalize the country’s tourism business.

Lack of raw materials and labour shortage, however, remain concerns for restoring the monuments and idols.

Speaking at an interaction organised by the Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal (Fhan), Uddhav Prasad Rijal, chief of Bhaktapur Municipality, said the recovery of lost sculptures and architectural assets was the biggest challenge to restoring the heritage sites to their previous glory.

“Besides, a manpower shortage looks like delaying our plans to promote tourism again in the city,” he said.

Bhaktapur is one of the major tourist destinations in Nepal. According to the municipality, it earned Rs280 million in revenues from tourists last year. “Now, earnings have gone down to almost zero.”

Among the 172 architectural structures and temples in Bhaktapur, 67 were severely damaged while the rest were partially affected.

According to the municipality, there is an urgent need to remove the rubble of 4,000 houses that were completely destroyed in the earthquake.

“Although 16-17 dozers and 45-50 tippers have been employed daily to clear the debris, it is becoming difficult to work in the narrow alleys of the municipality due to lack of manpower,” said Rijal.

Art and crafts expert Anil Chitrakar said the government had to focus on protecting the remaining historical assets that have been damaged. “There is a high risk of the remaining assets being stolen,” he said.

As per the Department of Archaeology, the sector has faced an estimated loss of Rs7-9 billion.

Chitrakar stressed the need to present a reconstruction plan for the heritage sites during the donors meet scheduled for June 25.

Fhan has estimated that 721 historical monuments across the country suffered severe damage.

The federation has established a fund of Rs700,000 for reconstruction. “We have targeted boosting the fund to Rs10 million in order to help design the artworks and sculptures that will be needed to restore the heritage sites,” said Fhan President Hem Ratna Shakya.

The participants at the interaction underscored the need to involve skilled artisans in the reconstruction process besides ensuring the quality of raw materials like wood, stone and metal to restore the monuments and sculptures. They said that the upcoming budget should accord high priority to the reconstruction of the country’s heritage sites.

Published: 12-06-2015 07:54

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