Heritage conservationists smash concrete structure built at Kamal PokhariThey have accused Kathmandu Metropolitan City of going on with the project despite the case being sub judice in Supreme Court.
At a time when Kathmandu Metropolitan City is facing intense criticism for its handling of Kamal Pokhari restoration and beautification project, it has taken yet another misstep to infuriate the heritage lovers and conservationists.
The project, which is already under fire for being environmentally and culturally unsustainable, has once again courted controversy for building a concrete structure in the middle of the historic pond.
On Friday, heritage lovers, conservationists and civil society members under the banner of Brihat Nagarik Andolan, a broad citizen’s movement advocating for a better, equal and just society, reached Kamal Pokhari and smashed the concrete structure using rocks and sledgehammers.
“The local government of Kathmandu is completely disregarding the appeal of its people. Despite our repeated calls and protests, it is putting up the concrete structure at Kamal Pokhari,” said Alok Siddhi Tuladhar, a heritage conservationist.
Tuladhar and others have long been exerting pressure on the government and its various agencies to respect the cultural, environmental and historical aspects of the structures and monuments while restoring them.
On January 25, they had gathered at Kamal Pokhari to protest the Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s restoration and beautification plan for the pond.
Tuladhar accused the city authority of repeatedly disregarding their concerns.
“If they were people’s representatives they would have respected our concerns. But they are ego-driven and guided by a mindset of a dictator,” said Tuladhar.
Heritage conservationists claim that Kathmandu Metropolitan City went ahead with the construction of the concrete structure at Kamal Pokhari despite the case being sub judice.
Just a month earlier, heritage conservationist Ganapati Lal Shrestha, law student Sajya Adhikari and the others had filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court against the use of concrete for the restoration of Kamal Pokhari.
Responding to the petition, the court had asked the Department of Archaeology to inspect the project site and present a report of the findings.
“The department of Archaeology only sent its staff but not experts, and it didn’t take any action. Now, Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya is speeding up the construction work at Kamal Pokhari,” Shrestha said. “The public elected representatives should have been more conscious but they are not concerned about their historic value and public attachment with them.”
The latest Kamal Pokhari controversy comes at a time when the government is being criticised for its decision to install a 108 kg gold Jalahari at Pashupati temple by going against the Ancient Monument Preservation Act-2013 and UNESCO World Heritage Site’s criteria.
“Culture and heritage are a bigger human right issue, it falls under the basic fundamental human rights,” said Mohna Ansari, a former commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission. “Every individual has the right to freedom of thought and religion, and right to learn about their history and history of others, but the government is now trying to destroy it and commercialise it, which is wrong.”