Remnant of a glorious pastThe way the Tri-Chandra College building has been left to disintegrate is a national shame.
Students organised a protest on Tuesday demanding the reconstruction of the Tri-Chandra College building which suffered considerable damage in the 2015 earthquake. The authorities have turned a deaf ear to calls for restoration, leaving it in a state of decay despite growing resentment amongst students, teachers and the public. It has been seven years since the disastrous earthquake destroyed many essential landmarks in the country. While the temples, stupas and historical monuments in Kathmandu Valley have seen some progress with regard to restoration, the educational institutions that were damaged during the earthquake continue to suffer from gross neglect.
The Tri-Chandra College premises, located at the heart of the capital, are separated by a busy thoroughfare. At first glance, the crumbling façade of the neo-classical building presents a rather gloomy picture. If not for the students with books in their hands weaving their way though the traffic as they cross the road back and forth to get to their classes, an uninitiated onlooker could be spooked by the dilapidated structure. Built in 1918 as Nepal’s first institution of higher education, the way the glorious Tri-Chandra College building has been left to disintegrate is a national shame.
Last year, Finance Minister Janardan Sharma had announced plans to renovate the building and even set aside a budget for the restoration, but no concrete steps have yet been taken in this regard. One gets a sense of the authorities’ priorities and purpose when the National Reconstruction Authority unveiled a detailed project report to retrofit the adjacent Ghantaghar clock tower, but offered no such scheme for the college buildings. The Department of Archaeology says it has received no correspondence from the National Reconstruction Authority in this regard, adding to the usual delay and confusion.
It isn’t just the lack of reconstruction of the college building that is painful for onlookers. It is the conscious failure of the authorities to recognise the historical and archaeological significance of Tri-Chandra, which still stands to contribute to the nation on fronts other than just education. If the first institution for higher education does not stand as a heritage structure, what can? For a college that boasts a high-profile alumni list of people of national and international repute and with its history rooted in a glorious past to be shown absolute disdain reflects poorly on our ability to uphold and preserve anything of value for posterity.
When the authorities prioritise the completion of unnecessary mammoth structures such as view towers—incidentally, one such monstrosity is being constructed only a few hundred yards from the dilapidated structures of Tri-Chandra—this exposes the glaring failures of the government. And these failures are not related only to the state of the Tri-Chandra College building, but in all areas of misgovernance which would undoubtedly be visible from atop these view towers.