Idols, sculptures of damaged sites safe: DoA

- GAURAV THAPA, Kathmandu

Dec 14, 2015-

Quashing rumours that several idols and sculptures could have been smuggled out of the country from hundreds of damaged religious and cultural sites after the April earthquake, the Department of Archaeology said all items have been accounted for.

“Not even a single part of our damaged monuments has been lost,” DoA spokesperson Ram Bahadur Kunwar said. “Although several temples have been damaged, our assessment found that their rubble has been kept safe in the local community and no significant object has been stolen.”

Earlier, public was concerned that the earthquake provided an opportunity to art smugglers and antique dealers to abscond with valuables, a recurring incident in the country especially during and after the 1950s. Nepali idols and sculptures are a major part of the Asian art black market and unofficial reports put the figures in the thousands. Indrajatra Management Main Committee Chairman Gautam Shakya confirmed on his part that none of the objects that came from the rubble of Basantapur Durbar Square have been lost. “Immediately after the earthquake, locals teamed up with army, police and rescue workers to salvage the remains of all structures in Basantapur,” he said. “They have been kept safe inside the Kasthamandap Durbar and will be reused during reconstruction.”

The DoA stated that it has maintained detailed record of all temples, stupas and statues in the country as per the Ancient Monuments Preservation Rules of 1989 and the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act of 1956. According to officials, the department has prepared an inventory, along with pictures, of monuments in all 75 districts by classifying them in three categories--national importance, regional importance and local importance.

A total of 750 historical, cultural and religious monuments in 20 districts were damaged by the April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks. Among them, 133 were completely destroyed while 617 were partially damaged. The seven world heritage sites in the Valley have also sustained damage due to the earthquake. Among them, Swayambhunath stupa, Changu Narayan temple and the durbar squares of Basantapur, Patan and Bhaktapur have suffered considerable damage with many structures reduced to rubble. In comparison, two other heritage sites--Boudhanath stupa and Pashupatinath temple--are largely intact.

Meanwhile, DoA spokesperson Kunwar said the department has forwarded its reconstruction plans to the National Planning Commission for approval and budget allocation. He added that the department will start reconstruction from world heritage sites first and move on to others. According to the Post Disaster Needs Assessment report prepared by the government, Rs20.56 billion will be required to rebuild all damaged monuments.

Published: 14-12-2015 08:42

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