Reconstruction work of Rani Pokhari resumes

  • As weed-clearing works start, conservationists say the long wait to restoring the historic pond is finally over
- ANUP OJHA, Kathmandu

Mar 6, 2019-

After waiting for almost three years, the reconstruction work of the historic Rani Pokhari finally resumed on Monday. The project had been on hold following a series of controversies and numerous logistical obstacles.

The National Reconstruction Authority has started the reconstruction work engaging 40 locals from Bhaktapur under the direct surveillance of the consumers’ committee, the Department of Archaeology, historians, locals and ward chairpersons of wards 27, 28 and 1 of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City.

The Pokhari, built by King Pratap Malla in 1670 to appease his wife, has been wearing a disgruntled look for over a year, after the Kathmandu Metropolitan City built a 10-feet concrete boundary on the southeastern side of the pond, distressing conservationists and locals.

The reconstruction process this time around will be carried out keeping intact all cultural elements. “We will use traditional materials, and follow the traditional style and forms. The reconstruction work will be carried out in its original form as constructed by Pratap Malla,” said Chief Executive Officer at Authority Sushil Gyawali. He said that the reconstruction work will be carried out in two phases: the first phase will focus on work on the historic pond that spreads over 63 ropanis of land, while the second phase will focus on the reconstruction work of the Balgopaleshwor temple and the bridge that leads to it. The authority has also said that it will give locals direct ownership over the reconstruction project.

As to how they will fill up the pond, Gyawali said, “We will be using black soil, sand and brick, and other traditional materials to harvest rainwater in a traditional manner based on experts decision.” The Authority has formed a Rani Pokhari reconstruction, monitoring and coordination committee under the supervision of NRA’s executive member Chandra Bahadur Shrestha; former Director General at Archaeology Department,  Bishnu Raj Karki, who also led a 11-member expert committee to study the reconstruction of Rani Pokhari last year in January; and other experts like conservationist and architect Rohit  Ranjitkar and Structural Engineer Prem Nath Maskey.

Gyawali said that for the first phase, an estimated Rs100 million will be spent. The bidding for the second phase will be open next week.

Talking to the Post, NRA’s executive committee member and Rani Pokhari Facilitation Committee coordinator, Chandra Bahadur Shrestha, said the authority is also going to add 60 other local people to complete the project.

The authority’s new initiative has been welcomed by heritage conservationists and archaeologists. Locals are also optimistic, terming the move as a step ahead in conserving the Malla Era historic monument in its original form.

“It’s a matter of honour for us that the government has shown concern in preserving our heritage in its original form,” said Ganapati Lal Shrestha, one of the leading conservationists who took part in multiple protests along with other conservationists and heritage activists to preserve the Rani Pokhari in its original form. “I guess our battle to preserve historic Rani Pokhari is over now. We will actively participate in the conservation process.”  

Initially, the reconstruction work of the earthquake-damaged iconic Rani Pokhari was given to the Kathmandu Metropolitan City. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari had laid the foundation stone for the reconstruction work on January 16, 2016, but the work could not go according to plan. After widespread criticism for using concrete materials by the metropolis and its inability to carry out the work, a cabinet meeting held on January 28 had decided to handover the responsibility of the reconstruction work of Rani Pokhari and Balgopaleshwor Temple to the Authority.

The metropolis had already spent Rs30 million on the project, before it was handed over to the Authority.

Published: 06-03-2019 09:34

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