Unruly domestic visitors worry Basantapur residentsActivists and community members want Kathmandu officials to take initiative to bring order to the area.
The streets of Basantpur in the heart of Kathmandu would be full of foreign tourists before the pandemic. But now with almost all Covid-19 restrictions lifted in the city, the home of Kathmandu’s prized historical and cultural monuments is seeing a surge in domestic visitors.
As Basantapur’s open spaces attract city residents looking for solace, the neighbourhood has had to bear with chaos created by tourists roaming the alleys, unplanned parking of vehicles, and unauthorised roadside shops, residents complain.
“Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of foreign tourists coming to visit Kathmandu Durbar Square has come down significantly, but the number of local visitors have increased dramatically,” said Roshan Man Shakya, head of Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s Kathmandu Durbar Square Conservation Programme.
He said before the Covid-19 pandemic, Kathmandu Durbar Square used to collect Rs 10 million a month in revenue from ticket sales to tourists. “Now we hardly earn Rs50,000 per month, and we are facing difficulties conducting repairs in the area, ” said Shakya.
Residents say that they are facing inconvenience due to the surge in domestic tourists. “The unauthorised parking of motorbikes on the square premises has hindered our mobility. Besides that, during the evening, we see many unethical activities go on in the area,” said Kiran Bahadur Shrestha, 50, a resident of Basantapur.
He further said a large number of tea sellers have caused more trouble. “Mostly the tea sellers are girls. Some of them are facing sexual assault from visitors,” said Shrestha. “People are also relieving themselves in the open,” said Shrestha.
Residents and heritage conservationists have asked authorities to take action to restore the beauty of the world heritage site.
Heritage activist Ganapati Lal Shrestha said consultations are on to make Kathmandu Durbar Square a vehicle-free zone. “The whole area is in a mess. We are holding consultations to declare the area vehicle-free just like Bhaktapur,” said the activist.
“It has been vehicle-free for long and you do not see any unauthorised parking inside Bhaktapur Durbar Square as the area is constantly monitored by the municipality,” said Shrestha. “Stakeholders should learn from Bhaktapur.”
Metropolitan Traffic Police, Jana Sewa, said it will soon start controlling the movement of vehicles in the area. “We have received numerous complaints from local residents. After the Covid-19 pandemic, the place has become overcrowded,” said inspector Saroj Kumar Thakurathi.