Never a dull momentThe mayor never fails to disappoint those eager to see him take one silly step after another.
Kathmandu Metropolitan City Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya never fails to disappoint those eager to see him make one insensitive decision after another. The callousness with which he has run the metropolis for the past four years and more is astounding, to say the least. Bidya Sundar Shakya is simply incapable of understanding the nuances that give life to a city. He is not only incapable of thinking what needs to be done to maintain the pulse of the city, but he also does not want to learn. As if his ill-willed attempts at erecting concrete structures at Rani Pokhari and Kamal Pokhari ponds were not enough, he has now ordered the erection of eight concrete plinths on the edge of the Dabali on the southern side of Nautale Durbar, going against the established norms that govern a World Heritage Site.
The city intends to install 35-foot-tall posts to fly Nepali national flags, as if the heritage site needed reassurance about its importance. And as if the installation of national flags is the only way to celebrate a nation’s heritage and history. What is ludicrous is that the mayor is installing a flag to possibly "unify" the nation when he has not been able to run the metropolitan city properly. In yet another show of a longstanding discord with Mayor Shakya, Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi visited the construction site, ordered a halt to the building, and promised to have the plinths removed. Khadgi is known to have criticised the mayor’s earlier attempts at desecrating the aesthetics of the city, including at Rani Pokhari; but it is interesting how the deputy mayor turns up at a controversial construction site following a public uproar, and hardly ever seems to halt the work of an unruly mayor in the beginning.
Not every public representative gets an opportunity to lead a city that blends historicity and cosmopolitanism like Kathmandu does. Sitting at a crossroads between the past and the future, the city is an example of a breathing, living city. However, a city needs constant nurturing for it to remain rooted in its past even as it grows wings for its future. Bidya Sundar Shakya, a local resident of the city, was expected to respect, love and nurture the city. Instead, what he did during his tenure was to turn it from bad to worse. The city is peppered with mounds of trash everywhere. Its drainage system is peppered with leaks. Its roads are never without potholes. During Shakya’s tenure, Kathmandu has become a city that reflects decades of neglect and misplaced priorities.
It is not difficult to understand that the mayor is resorting to a cheap tactic of using the national flag as he has nothing else to show at the end of his term. If the use of concrete plinths is a blot on the heritage of Kathmandu city, the use of the national flag to bolster one’s public image is a blot on democratic politics itself. The Kathmandu mayor should immediately demolish the concrete structures he has ordered to be built on a heritage site, and apologise to the public for misusing his power as a public representative to bolster his image rather than do actual work to make the metropolitan city a better place.