Nine years on, UN Park project still in limbo

Kathmandu, November 10:

The UN Park project, envisaged in 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, is nowhere near completion. The irony is that officials concerned do not know when the project will be completed.

In a period of nine years, the UN Park Development Committee (UNPDC) has just fenced the land demarcated for the park area. It has constructed roads. Construction work is going on at Jwagal in the Lalitpur side. Trees have been planted and walkways and ponds have been built. Weeds and shrubs have been thriving, too.

Construction of the Park will gain momentum once it is brought under the purview of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MoEST), Subasdhar Shakya, joint-secretary at the MoEST, said today.

At present, the UN Park project is under the purview of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works.

A secretary-level meeting of the two ministries has forwarded its decision to hand over the project to the MoEST to the cabinet. The project can be given to the MoEST once the cabinet approves of the decision.

“Since we undertake projects on environment, we think the MoEST can execute the project more efficiently,” said Shakya, adding: “Besides, Minister for Population and Environment is the head of the UNPDC.”

“We will do our best to complete the project at the earliest once we are handed over the responsibilities,” said Shakya.

The park area stretches from Sankhamul Ghat to Teku Dobhan along the banks of the Bagmati River, covering over 1164 ropanis of land.

“We have acquired ‘lalpurja’ of the land for building the park. Land mafias would have taken over the land had we not been guarding it,” said Sagar Rijal, a senior official at the UN Park Development Committee.

The UN Park Development Committee has allowed individuals to make use of the wasted land. “The individuals have promised us they will stop making use of the land once the project works begin,” Rijal said. Sand-mining is going unabated on the proposed park premises.

The Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology management is likely to get funds from donors for building the project, which is likely to cost Rs 340 million. Shakya said it would be too early to comment on the possibility of getting foreign funds for the project.