Cultural City plan for Bhaktapur hangs fire

Shashi Dhungel

Bhaktapur, July 24:

A detailed survey done in 1996 in connection with declaring Bhaktapur a cultural city is gathering dust at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, thanks to the apathy by successive governments formed since then. The authority concerned had almost forgot the proposal forwarded by the Bhaktapur Municipality for declaration of Bhaktapur as a Cultural City. “The concept of a Cultural City does not only mean that the infrastructure should be traditional, but that it should also be sellable and be a better source of income for the people,” said Laxman Kisiju, chief at the Planning and Technical section at Bhaktapur Municipality. The Ninth Five Year Plan (1997-2002) had included a project of Cultural City, but this was dropped in the Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-2007). This shows the government has little interest in developing a cultural city, Kisiju said.

However, Shanker Koirala, joint secretary at Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, said the government is formulating policies to develop Bhaktapur as a Cultural City and Janakpur as a Religious City. “It is not that the government is apathetic towards it, we are doing our homework for the purpose. We are yet to formulate norms to declare any city as a cultural or religious city and we have started a study to prepare such norms,” Koirala added.

He, however, could not elaborate on the reason for such a slow progress. Municipality is working in full swing to make Bhaktapur a Cultural City. It is working on projects like land pooling, introduction of construction guideline and incentives for construction or reconstruction of houses in the city area in traditional fashion. “Bhaktapur is a member of the World Heritage Cities’ Organisation and declared a Cultural City, it would be the first of its kind in Asia,” Kisiju said.