New plan for Rani Pokhari worries conservationistsHeritage conservationists and activists are worried about government’s plan to hand over the reconstruction of Rani Pokhari to Nepal Army (NA).
Heritage conservationists and activists are worried about government’s plan to hand over the reconstruction of Rani Pokhari to Nepal Army (NA).
A meeting held between Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Prasad Adhikari, KMC’s Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya and Director General at Department of Archaeology (DoA) Bhesh Narayan Dahal on Tuesday discussed the plan to give reconstruction work to NA.
The heritage activists, conservationists and locals say if the government formally announces to hand over the reconstruction of Rani Pokhari to NA it would be another grave mistake.
“This is totally wrong. The government is just passing its responsibility to someone else because it cannot
handle it. If the army takes over, no one would dare to speak about it and this is not democratic,” said Alok
Siddhi Tuladhar, a heritage conservationist.
Talking to the Post, DoA Director General Bhesh Narayan Dahal said there is no harm in handing it to NA.
“Talks are still going on. If the NA accepts this, it has to follow the archaeological norms and conditions put forth by the DoA. It should be reconstructed in its original form,” said Dahal.
Heritage conservationists do not accept Dahal’s idea.
“The NA does not have any prior experience in this area. They are good with blasting bombs or opening new track, rebuilding Rani Pokhari is different. If NA takes charge, nobody can speak about transparency,” said Tuladhar.
Conservationists and architects say bringing NA in the controversial issue would diminish the credibility of the army.
“This will just be like settling scores of KMC and DoA with citizens and heritage conservationists like us,” said Sudarshan Raj Tiwari, an architect and former Dean of the Institute of Engineering Campus, Pulchwok.
The KMC has spent around Rs 25 million on Rani Pokhari, but there is no perceptible change in the structure.
The Supreme Court (SC) too has sought clarity on the large amount embezzled under Rani Pokhari expense bill.
On January 22, the top court directed the KMC and DOA to submit monthly reports on the progress of Rani Pokhari’s reconstruction. However, there has been no work on the historic pond since then.
The KMC has scrapped its deal with its contractor Worldwide Kandel KN KG JV. Worldwide Kandel that began reconstructing the pond in 2016 has already filed case in the SC for scrapping its deal.
Even Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khagdi is against the move. Talking to the Post, she expressed disgust for excluding her from the meeting.
“I am against the move of giving reconstruction work to the NA because heritage is a sensitive issue, it needs experts,” said Khagdi.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari had laid the foundation stone for the reconstruction of Rani Pokhari in
2016, January 16, after the earthquake on April 25, 2015 damaged it.
Three years after the devastating quake, the historic monument in the heart of Kathmandu city lies in a decrepit state.
The work could not progress further after KMC used concrete materials to reconstruct the Gopaleshwor Temple. There was widespread criticism on this issue too. The KMC received a letter from Unesco for using concrete pillars.
Last year, the metropolis constructed a 10-feet concrete wall boundary wall on the southeastern side of the historic pond. This act too received public outrage.
In 2016, the task of reconstruction of the temple was handed to DoA.