‘Foul play’ in Mahasnanghar collapse

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, March 31:

Locals are furious with the Pashupati Area Development Trust for what they claim is irresponsible handling of a 200-year-old Malla dynasty monument — “Mahasnanghar”. According to irate locals, the PADT on pretext of renovating the monument — a traditional rest-house — deliberatley caused it to collapse so it could make money through the reconstruction of the monument. Locals said the PADT officials wanted the monument to fall apart so as to get a chance of securing higher commisions.

The northern portion of the rest-house, under renovation by PADT, collapsed Tuesday morning. It was built by King Rana Bahadur Shah when he was living as a saint at the end of 18th century. PADT has already demolished over a hundred residential houses to clear the land as per a Master Plan, despite objections from UNESCO headquarters two years ago.

“It was sheer negligence by the PADT that led to this disaster. Everybody knows what happens when one tries to dig a house randomly. They did a haphazard job and never sought suggestions from specialists,” said Chandra Man Rajbhandary, former Pradhan Pancha of the locality.

Rajbhandary said the monument ought to be reconstructed exactly as it was since it was an eminent archeological structure of Pashupati Area, which is listed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.

Another local, Raj Kumar Shrestha, said he was eye-witness to the destruction of the monument. “PADT started working in December, and at a snail’s pace.” Shrestha added the PADT worked so slowly it let the monument decay through the monsoon. “It collapsed because workers deliberately stared moving the foundation beams. They should have

begun work from the top, instead they attacked the foundation,”

he said.

Rajbhandary said the Malla king Rana Bahadur Shah had constructed the building in 1850 BS. The last time a few of the windows were renovated was in 2016 BS. The rest-house provides space for the monthly rituals of Mahasnan, in which the idol of Pashupatinath is given a bath.

PADT officials admitted that around 12.5 meter northern part of the two-storey ancient rest-house collapsed while workmen were trying to change the beam which was holding the load of the whole building.

Rajendra Dhar Rajopadhyay, an engineer at PADT, said renovation work began after recommendations from a study team three years ago. The team had urged complete renovation and chemical treatments.

Rajopadhyay maintained the monument needed to undergo total reconstruction as it was too old and did not get proper care. Locals, however, scoffed at his claim, saying the monument

was in good condition and would have lasted another century with minimal care.