Kathmandu, July 15
Four years after the devastating 2015 earthquakes, the government has finally decided to form a research committee to recommend reconstruction modality of the historic Bag Durbar, which used to house the Office of Kathmandu Metropolitan City before it was damaged in the earthquakes.
The Cabinet, on July 11, took the decision to form an 11-member expert committee to be headed by the director general of the Department of Archaeology to prepare a detailed report on reconstruction or renovation modality of the historic building. It has also asked the committee to submit the report within three months.
However, Director General of the Department of Archaeology Damodar Gautam said that he had not received any written information about the decision. “We are committed to working as per the government’s instruction.” He added.
After the 2015 earthquakes, Bag Durbar, which is believed to have been built between 1803 and 1804, has been in a dilapidated condition. There are very big cracks on the building walls posing serious risk to those who pass by the building. The ceilings have also started leaking and one can easily see that the building has started gathering moss due to lack of care. Similarly, the designs made on the walls, pillars and ceilings have also been damaged.
Though the government has decided to give the work to the committee, conservationists and locals are not assured that the reconstruction work will start any time soon.
Activist Sanjay Adhikari said the DoA had already proposed two modalities for the reconstruction, but did not implement any. “This time also they will propose a different modality but somehow dilly-dally the reconstruction work,” he added.
Acting upon a petition filed by local activists, the Supreme Court, on March 19, had issued an order barring KMC from demolishing the building and asking the DoA to adopt necessary measures to preserve it.
Following the order, the DoA had formed an ‘Emergency Protection and Conservation Work of Bag Durbar’ project and hired a private contractor Raj Construction to undertake the project. But, shortly after the contractor started work it withdrew from the project sending a letter to the DoA stating they received threats from KMC telling them to abandon the work.
Reconstruction modality of Bag Durbar did not go well with local activists and conservationists after KMC proposed to dismantle the historic building and construct a look-alike building along with two other buildings at the site. The locals and conservationists had vehemently criticised the decision saying KMC had not authority to dismantle the historic building.
Ancient Monument Preservation Act states that buildings older than 100 years must be preserved in their original state.
A version of this article appears in print on July 16, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.