Recommendation panel to decide fate of Singha Durbar

  • restoration of historic buildings
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Jan 17, 2017-

The fate of the main building of the country’s administrative hub—Singha Durbar—will be decided by a recommendation committee after consultations with archeologists and consultants.

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) on Monday organised discussion with a panel of experts and archeologists on a recent report of Digicon Engineering Consult Pvt Ltd that has recommended that the building should be reconstructed claiming that retrofiting alone would not make it a strong structure. They also discussed ways to restore the country’s main administrative building that was badly damaged by the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015.

Conservation expert Rabindra Puri, archaeologist Bhim Nepal, journalist Kanak Mani Dixit, culture expert Safalya Amatya, Ambica Shrestha, Sagar Shumsher and Surya Bhakta Sangachhe were among those present at the discussion.

The Ministry of Urban Development had commissioned Digicon to carry out a study on eight historical buildings, including Singha Durbar. During Monday’s meeting, experts criticised government’s proposal to demolish the building that holds archeological and 

historical importance, without even testing the bricks and soil. 

Director General of the Department of Archaeology Bhesh Narayan Dahal said his department had received a letter from the ministry asking for a permission to rebuild the western wing of the building. “But we have suggested a detailed study before reaching any conclusion,” Dahal said, stressing for the preservation of Singha Durbar and its aesthetic beauty.

Managing Director of Digicon Ram Udhar Yadav, however, claimed that their study had not considered archeological issues and focused on core structural engineering as per the terms of reference provided to them. 

“The report has also underscored very low shear strength of the masonary building, higher cost of restoration with lower life-time, probability of change in aesthetic and material property during restoration and retrofitting,” said Yadav. He did accept that bricks and soil tests were not carried out. 

Joint Spokesperson for the NRA Bhishma Kumar Bhusal said the meeting decided to form a recommendation committee before taking any decision on the fate of the historical buildings.

After going through the presentation of Digicon Engineering Consult, most of the experts present at Monday’s meeting suggested the NRA to carry out a detailed study, solicit views of international archeologists and consultants. 

A debate has been raging on whether to reconstruct or retrofit the damaged historical buildings since the massive 7.8-magnitude quake struck Nepal in 2015. While the Ministry of Urban Development claims the damaged buildings should be reconstructed in an identical way, the DoA is pressing for retrofitting them to save their historical values. This has caused a delay to the reconstruction works of Singha Durbar and other historical buildings.

NRA to deploy CETVT students In a bid to expedite post-quake reconstruction works, the NRA has decided to deploy the final year students of Civil and Architect Engineering at the Centre for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) as volunteers within February 11. The NRA, the CTEVT and the Education Ministry have reached an agreement in this regard, said Joint Spokesperson Bhishma K Bhusal. The engineering students would join the engineers deployed by the Ministry of Urban Development at the earthquake-affected districts in building quake-proof houses and raise awareness among the people.

Published: 17-01-2017 08:01

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