DoA to begin reconstruction of 145 heritage sites

Kathmandu, December 16

The Department of Archaeology is preparing to begin the reconstruction of 145 heritage sites throughout the country this year.

The devastating Gorkha earthquake of 2015 had fully or partially damaged about 800 heritage sites, mainly in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Dolakha, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchowk, Gorkha and Dhading districts.

According to the department, both short-term and long-term heritage reconstruction projects are under way. “Whether we finish the works by this year or the next five years, we will begin the reconstruction of 145 heritage sites by the end of this year,” Spokesperson for the department Ram Bahadur Kunwar said, adding, “We are prioritising all reconstruction projects equally.”

He said reconstruction of about 60 heritage sites had already begun so far. A total of 133 structures of archaeological importance had collapsed, 95 had partially collapsed, and 515 were damaged, according to officials. Of 743 such structures, 417 are in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur, especially in Basantapur, Patan, and Bhaktapur.

The DoA had completed the reconstruction of the Bouddhanath Stupa a month ago, but the reconstruction of Ranipokhari is still in limbo. Though the department had decided to rebuild Bal Gopaleshwor temple in Ranipokhari, reconstruction process has yet to begin.

“The department had just specified that Bal Gopaleshwor temple will be reconstructed by the department itself, but no further process has taken place,” Kunwar said.

After a dispute between the DoA and the office of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, KMC had backed out from the reconstruction of the historic Balgopaleshwor temple, which lies at the centre of Ranipokhari, on the third week of September.

Reconstruction of the temple had halted for more than two weeks under the direction of the Department of Archeology. The KMC and the DoA are still in disagreement regarding the standards for the reconstruction of Ranipokhari and Bal Gopaleshwor temple.

The department has directed the KMC to not use concrete, a directive that the KMC disagreed upon. This disagreement resulted in the KMC’s withdrawal from the reconstruction of the temple.

The KMC was unhappy at the UNESCO’s concerns over the use of concrete in rebuilding Ranipokhari, as it is not listed in UNESCO as a heritage site, and the DoA had not put the use of concrete as a criterion earlier.

The reconstruction of Ranipokhari had been commissioned to the Worldwide Kandel KN KG JV. The company had claimed that concrete was used in reconstruction as it had also been used earlier.

The company said it had not done anything against the set standards, and was ready to furnish evidences of that.