NRA asks NT’s position on Dharahara construction

  • State-owned telecom company said to have backtracked on its pledge
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Sep 10, 2017-

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has asked Nepal Telecom (NT) to make its position clear on the construction of Dharahara within a week.

Dharahara, a nine-storey tall tower built in 1832 by then prime minister Bhimsen Thapa, was destroyed by the April 25, 2015 earthquake. 

Earlier the NT had shown interest to rebuild the tower. 

But after finding no progress, the NRA had written to the NT, seeking the state-owned telecom operator’s position in the last week of August. After the NT failed to respond, the NRA once again on Friday asked the NT to clarify whether it is still interested to rebuild the tower. 

 A meeting of the NRA Executive Committee chaired by Chief Executive Officer Govind Raj Pokharel in the first week of August had decided to seek opinion from the NT on the reconstruction of Dharahara. 

The NT was authorised to build the tower by a Cabinet meeting. 

According to Raju Man Manandhar, joint secretary at the NRA, the agency had to obtain formal clarification from the NT as the company during the last meeting had hinted that it was not keen to carry out the project. The NT’s reluctance to be part of the project is said to have surfaced following disagreements with the NRA on certain issues. 

While the NT had planned to recover its investment by using the structure for commercial purpose, the NRA was of the view that since it would be a state property, it could not be used by the NT to generate money.  

When the NT had expressed its interest to build Dharahara, it had proposed that it would invest around R 8 billion and manage the property for a period of 30 years after the completion of the structure. 

The Department of Archaeology too had expressed its reservation about the NT’s plan to use the new Dharahara for commercial purpose, saying using a structure of historical significance for generating money is not a good idea. 

“The telecom company then had said it would though provide Rs 1 billion for the project as committed earlier, it would not carry out the entire project of rebuilding the structure,” said Manandhar. “Now we asked the NT’s official position, as the construction cannot be delayed further.”

NT Managing Director Kamini Rajbhandari, however, claimed that the company had not received any formal correspondence from the NRA and that it was discussing modalities for the construction of Dharahara.

“There have been delays, but we are seriously considering constructing the historic structure,” said Rajbhandari. “A committee formed to prepare modalities has already submitted some reconstruction models. The model has to be finalised by the board, hence it is taking some time.”

Published: 10-09-2017 07:49

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