Heritage reconstruction yet to gather pace

- Dipesh Khatiwada, Kathmandu

Nov 6, 2016-

Although the reconstruction of Boudhanath Stupa, one of the World Heritage Sites, has been completed as a result of the initiative taken by the Boudhanath Area Development Committee (BADC), reconstruction of other heritage sites in Kathmandu Valley has been delayed by almost a year. 

The Department of Archaeology (DoA) says renovation of several heritage sites including Basantapur, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur Durbar Squares has just started after preparing designs, drawings.

“It took about six to seven months to complete the designs and drawings and assess the damage. We started reconstruction work at the heritage sites in the middle of the last fiscal year,” said Sampat Ghimire, a senior divisional engineer at the DoA, attributing the delay also to dilemma over working guidelines. 

The DoA is working at the heritage sites with around 75 engineers—30 architects, 10 civil engineers and 15 sub-engineers. Gopal Jha, a site engineer at Basantapur Darbar Square, said the team of engineers has completed 20 percent of reconstruction work in the area. “We have identified woods of several temples and separated them in different clusters,” he said. “We have already prepared designs and invited tenders. Reconstruction is under study phase,” Jha added, indicating that rebuilding works will gain momentum within two to four months.

In Lalitpur, reconstruction of Rato Machhindranath and Manakamana temples is underway in Bungmati. “We have started preparing drawings and designs of other heritage sites as well,” said engineer Dhurba Adhikari.

Mohan Krishna Shrestha, a site engineer at Bhaktapur Durbar Square, said around five to 10 percent of reconstruction has been completed in Bhaktapur so far. 

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has allocated Rs 500 million for the reconstruction of damaged heritage sites in the first phase during this fiscal year. 

“We had already invited 48 tenders to reconstruct these sites last year. This year, we are going to invite 87 more tenders,” said Bhesh Narayan Dahal, director general of the DoA, adding that reconstruction works were 

delayed as it the department was waiting for the green signal from the National Reconstruction Authority to start rebuilding these historical and religious sites. 

Also, there was delay from the MoF in budget allocation, said Dahal.

According to DoA records, 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 have been completely destroyed while 617 sustained partial damage.

Valley’s seven sites which were included in the UN World Heritage List in 1979 for their archaeological, historical, cultural and religious significance had sustained damage in the quake. Among them, Swoyambhunath Stupa, Changu Narayan temple, and the three durbar squares of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur suffered considerable damage with many structures reduced to rubble. Boudhanath Stupa and Pashupatinath Temple suffered less damage compared to other heritage structures. 

An estimated Rs 20.56 billion will be required to rebuild the damaged monuments, according to the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report. 

Published: 06-11-2016 07:47

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