All eyes on durbars, temples; no attention to private houses

  • Buildings of archaeological importance
- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu
All eyes on durbars, temples; no attention to private houses

Jul 8, 2015-

As the government focuses on the renovation of the World Heritage sites and temples, private houses of archaeological importance in Kathmandu, which actually are greater in number, receive no attention of the government and conservationists.

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) has identified a total of 1,132 houses of archaeological value owned by individuals in inner Kathmandu.

According to the Home Ministry, as many as 36,973 private houses in the Capital have been destroyed while 50,753 suffered partial damage in the April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks. The KMC has demolished only around 300 houses so far.

Shriju Pradhan, chief of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department at the KMC, said the traditional houses with fine brickworks, and woodcarving on the doors and windows are also listed as structures of archaeological value.

According to Rohit Ranjitkar, conservation architect and country director of the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, houses older than a century are considered archaeologically significant.

Pradhan said that most of these houses are located in Basantapur area, Indra Chowk, Chhetrapati, Thaidai and inner parts of the Bishnumati corridor.

“Sadly, these houses are not in priority. Destroying them means destroying our heritage and our own history. The government must provide subsidies to rebuild them in their original shape,” said Pradhan.

Ranjitkar said renovating and rebuilding private houses that form our heritage is equally important, not just for tourists but to preserve our history.

“We may have the perception that only temples, palaces, monasteries and sattals are heritage sites. Private houses with architectural designs are our heritage too,” said Ranjitkar.

With monsoon, houses that got cracks are at great risk of collapsing. “We have not even tarpaulins to cover our damaged houses. Colour of doors and windows, and their woodwork are fading due to rain,” said Laxmi Dangol, 53, who owns a traditional house in Teku.

Dangol and her 15-member joint family have been living in two tents in an open space in front of their house for two-and-a-half months. Their house has suffered cracks and is tilted slightly.

Dhanapati Sapkota, chief of the implementation division at the KMC, said they would destroy houses that pose threats to the public. “Due to limited resources, we are unable to support owners of houses of archaeological importance in pulling them down,” he said.

Published: 09-07-2015 07:46

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