Fourteen years since reconstruction started, Achham Durbar is still incompleteThe palace, built 150 years ago by Achhami King Tikabhuk Shah, was ravaged in a Maoist bomb attack in 2002.
The historical Achham Durbar was severely damaged when the Maoist insurgents bombed it in 2002. At the time of the incident, the district administration office was being run out of the monument in Mangalsen, the district headquarters. In the explosion, a total of 122 people were killed, including the then Achham Chief District Officer Mohan Singh Khatri.
The reconstruction of the war-ravaged palace began in 2008, two years after the Maoists signed a peace accord with the government. The government had allocated Rs22.5 million for the reconstruction. Fourteen years later, the reconstruction is yet to be completed. The contractor company and the authorities concerned haven’t prioritised it, adopting a lackadaisical approach, locals say.
The political parties say they prioritise the reconstruction during local, provincial and federal elections but fail to follow through with the actual work, locals complain.
“The history of our ancestors is linked with the Durbar,” said Nainsingh BK, a local of Mangalsen Municipality-4. “But the government and politicians have not taken initiatives to complete the reconstruction work though they assure us they will. They never live up to their commitment.”
When the reconstruction commenced in 2008, the government signed an agreement with the Rajendra-Saud-Tulchhi Durga-Badimalika-Kunwar JV, the contractor which promised to complete the project within two years. But as other construction companies left the project after some time, Rajendra-Saud JV took responsibility for the reconstruction work.
Jaya Bahadur Saud, the owner of Saud Construction, said that they have so far completed 75 percent of the reconstruction work.
The reconstruction work was halted over the past year on the pretext of timber shortage.
“The palace should be reconstructed in its old structure and style as per the contract,” Saud said. “The reconstruction has been delayed due to the shortage of Sal timber.”
The District Administration Office, however, said that the palace’s reconstruction was delayed due to the utter negligence of the contractor. It claimed there was no shortage of timber required for the reconstruction work.
The administration office wrote to the Department of Archeology two months ago recommending it scrap the project contract. But the department has not taken any action so far into the matter, an official said.
Achham Durbar, spanning 20 metres in length and 16 metres in width, was constructed around 150 years ago by Achhami King Tikabhuk Shah and his son Dal Bahadur Shah. The three-storey palace had 30 rooms. According to historian Surat Bahadur Shah, the palace, built in the style of Kathmandu’s Hanuman Dhoka Durbar, was sold off to the government in 1972BS by the heirs of the Achhami King at Rs90,000.