KATHMANDU: Nepali authorities and half a dozen diplomatic missions are at odds over the Road Widening Drive in Kathmandu Valley.
Both side — the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Kathmandu Valley Development Authority (KVDA); and the embassies of the US, China, Russia, Japan, Germany and France, are in “close consultations”.
“On the one hand, the embassies have sought through MoFA, that their premises not be demolished as it would compromise their ‘security’; while on the other hand, the KVDA is adamant about widening the road “squeezed by diplomatic missions”. It said it even demolished the compound of the Office of President.
According to the responses of the missions received by THT, the missions are not against the campaign, but, they are adamant that their premises should not be touched.
All the aforementioned missions, except Germany’s, are in Lazimpat and Baluwatar areas and the French Embassy and its Ambassador’s Residence compounds both have been marked.
Japanese Embassy said it “intends to cooperate with the road expansion work” but it stressed that “expansion undertakings should not adversely affect the dignity, security and functioning of the Embassy”.
Other missions are also of the same view. The Russian Embassy says it it followed all required measures when its facilities were built in Baluwatar.
A source at KVDA told THT that most of these embassy walls and security sentries were built without passing the building codes.
The embassies, however, say their security compounds were built as per Nepali housing codes and ethics.
A MoFA source told THT that some embassies are asking huge compensation. The US Embassy in Maharajgunj has demanded US$54 lakh for demolition of its front wall and the Japanese also want heavy compensation.
Press and Information Officer at the US Embassy, Robert Domaingue said the US embassy is discussing the issue with the Nepali government.
Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha agrees that security aspects of the missions should be considered, but says facilities built unlawfully will be removed.
Chargé d’Affaires Henning Hansen of German Embassy requested authorities “to respect and protect the dignity and functioning of the mission including the need for adequate security installations on its premises.” The Russian Embassy cited diplomatic immunity and privileges ensured by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, which conditionally recognises the inviolability of diplomatic premises.
A source at KVDA, however, said the Vienna Convention cannot be invoked to compromise the imperative of local development.