Dharahara reconstruction issue remains inconclusive in Cabinet

Kathmandu, November 1

Though it has been more than a month since Nepal Telecom (NT) retracted from its earlier decision to help reconstruct Dharahara, the government is yet to take any decision on rebuilding the country’s iconic landmark.

The plan to reconstruct Dharahara, which was completely damaged during the powerful earthquake of April 25, 2015, has been riddled with obstacles since more than two years following the spat over the design of the to-be built Dharahara. Following the dispute with the Department of Archaeology over the design, NT had withdrawn from its initiative to rebuild Dharahara though it had obliged to undertake the task to erect the monument earlier.

In the second week of September, NT had written a letter to National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) stating the company’s unwillingness to rebuild the monument in Sundhara as per the design of the government. NRA had then notified the Cabinet about NT’s reluctance to rebuild the monument as it was the Cabinet that had made a decision to authorise NT to undertake the task of reconstructing Dharahara.

However, the current Cabinet of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has not yet been able to take any decision regarding the reconstruction of Dharahara, which was originally built by then prime minister Bhimsen Thapa in 1832. An iconic landmark of Kathmandu Valley, the monument has come to symbolise the devastation caused by the devastating earthquake since 2015.

“It has been almost three weeks since NRA notified the Cabinet about NT’s unwillingness to rebuild Dharahara. However, the government is still indecisive on this issue,” said Bhisma Kumar Bhusal, deputy spokesperson for NRA. “The government should promptly take a decision in a bid to give momentum to the Dharahara rebuilding process.”

As per Bhusal, NRA itself is also ready to take on the responsibility of erecting the Dharahara again if the government does not authorise any other party for the task.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Lok Darsan Regmi informed that he was unaware about the letter from NRA and recent developments on the issue regarding reconstruction of Dharahara and said he will look into the issue soon.

Earlier, NT had cited two reasons for pulling out of reconstructing Dharahara — government’s refusal to let NT rebuild the monument as per a design that ensures sustainable operation of Dharahara after it is erected, and the local communities being opposed to rebuilding Dharahara as per the design proposed by the Department of Archaeology.

However, NT had informed that it is not backtracking from its earlier commitment to contribute almost Rs one billion for reconstruction of Dharahara.