Kathmandu, June 7
Workers of a private contractor company were barred by the officials of Kathmandu Metropolitan City from carrying out preservation work of historic Bag Durbar, which suffered a heavy damage in the 2015 earthquakes.
The Supreme Court on March 19 had issued an order to KMC asking it not to destroy the building. The SC order asked the Department of Archaeology to take necessary measures to preserve it. Following the order, the DoA had formed a project ‘Emergency Protection and Conservation Work of Bag Durbar’ and appointed a private contractor —Raj Construction — to execute the project.
A letter written by the contractor to the DoA on May 8 states that some high ranking officials of KMC had obstructed the preservation work of the building and had ‘misbehaved’ with the workers. The letter mentions that high ranking officials of KMC — Ganesh Prasad Thapalia, Hari Kunwar, Raj Pandey, and Gyanendra Karki — and Head of Municipal Police Bishnu Prasad Joshi had misbehaved with the workers/contractors threatening them to quit the project.
Ram Shah of Raj Construction told THT that its officials called the workers to the KMC office and issued threats of sending them to jail if they did not immediately halt the preservation project. “Because of the threats from KMC officials, we wrote a letter to the DoA asking it to create an amiable environment to execute the project,” Shah said.
A source at KMC told THT that some workers were held inside a closed room of KMC office for two hours while some were manhandled. They were also threatened to quit the project.
The ancient building continues to deteriorate rapidly as there have been no efforts to protect it.
Ganapati Lal Shrestha, a cultural activist, said, “KMC’s act of obstructing the preservation of the cultural heritage and its manhandling of the workers is highly deplorable. Instead of spearheaded the project, KMC is going against the SC order.”
KMC denies any untoward incidents in regards to Bag Durbar. Ishwor Man Dangol, spokesperson for KMC, said, “We don’t reckon our officials were involved in such incidents.” Dangol also said KMC was willing to support the DoA in its effort to preserve Bag Durbar.
Bag Durbar used to house the office of KMC until the 2015 earthquakes.
A version of this article appears in print on June 08, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.