House panel directs government to revoke permission to lease Ramgram StupaThe Public Accounts Committee says handing over the revered site to private companies is illegal and an attack on public faith.
The Public Accounts Committee on Sunday directed the government to revoke the permission granted to two private companies to unearth the historical area and construct stupas, Vihars and other structures in Ramgram Stupa, which is said to contain the corporeal remains of Gautam Buddha.
The Lumbini Development Trust had agreed to lease out a total of 120 bigha (81.27 hectares) of land for 99 years to the Singapore-based Moksha Foundation and Nepal-based Promised Land. Of the total 120 bigha, 116 bigha (78.56 hectares) belong to local residents and need to be acquisitioned.
Recently, the vice-chairman of the Lumbini Development Trust, Lharkyal Lama, unilaterally decided to lease out the Ramgram area to private companies ignoring written objections by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Archaeology.
The meeting of the House panel on Sunday instructed the government to cancel all the processes and also to investigate individuals involved in the decision-making process. The committee has also instructed the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority to investigate.
The committee said that handing over the Ramgram area to private companies is illegal and an attack on public faith.
“The committee draws the serious attention of the government, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers to the fact that there should be mutual coordination and cooperation between three tiers of the government on the issue,” the committee said.
The committee chair Rishikesh Pokharel said the agreement to keep the historical heritage under the control of a certain company for a century was done covertly.
The committee directed to cancel all the process immediately as it is against the national interest, said Pokharel.
Ramgram Stupa is one of the eight original relic stupas where the corporeal remains of Gautam Buddha were enshrined. The stupa is a 7-metre high brick mound situated in ward 7 of Ramgram Municipality, around seven kilometres south of Parasi, the district headquarters of Nawalparasi West.
Some historians and archaeologists believe the ruins and artefacts date back to the Maurya era. Relics recovered during excavations in Ramgram and its surroundings suggest the area could have been the capital of the ancient Koliya state, the parental home of Buddha’s mother Mayadevi.
Lumbini in Rupandehi district is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautam. He spent his princely life in Tilaurakot palace of Kapilvastu district while Ramgram Stupa is the revered relic stupa for Buddhists. This historic stupa lies on the bank of the Jharahi stream in the village of Ujjaini.
According to archaeologists and historians, Ramgram is the only stupa among the eight relic stupas to be left untouched to respect its sanctity.