NRA, DoA at loggerheads over Dharahara reconstruction model

  • NRA is set to rebuild Dharahara in its original design and size

Kathmandu, February 6

Rebuilding of the iconic landmark Dharahara, which was destroyed in the 2015 earthquakes, remains in limbo due to the dispute over between National Reconstruction Authority and Department of Archaeology over the reconstruction model.

NRA officials complained that DoA was yet to submit the final blueprint for the project although Rs 6.8 million had already been spent. DoA authorities, on the other hand, said they had already provided necessary documents six months ago.

On the other hand, Joint-secretary Raju Man Manandhar of Heritage Conservation and Government Building Construction Division under NRA reiterated that DoA had not provided them the reconstruction blueprint. He also added that they provided only a structural plan, not a proper working design and proper budgeting in order to start the job.

Divisional engineer at DoA Sampad Ghimere, however, said they had hired a private engineering consultant for the purpose and refused to comment further. Representative of MRB Associates, Bishnu Panthi, the bidder for the reconstruction project said they had submitted the  structural plan, architectural  design, electrical design and detailed cost estimate six months ago.

Former prime minister KP Sharma Oli had on February 16, 2016 had appealed to the general public and government employees to donate money for the reconstruction of Dharahara, but his campaign failed to take off. The next government then formed an immediate action plan on July 6,  2016 and decided to start reconstruction work by November 2017.

According to a 24-point action plan provided to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, the process of procuring land was completed and the initial design for Dharahara was supposed to be drawn by the end of July. The Cabinet later decided to allow Nepal Telecom to reconstruct the heritage tower. The NT had shown interest in rebuilding the tower, but later retracted from the project on 19 September  2017, stating that it would not be able to reconstruct Dharahara as proposed by the DoA and  Kathmandu Metropolitan City. But, NT stayed on with its commitment to provide Rs 1 billion for  Dharahara  reconstruction.

The government later gave authority to NRA to use the land of the General Post Office and Mint Department of National Banijya Bank to rebuild the tower. But, the Mint Department refused to move elsewhere so the government then convinced the General Post Office to provide nine ropani  land for Dharahara project in exchange for 15-ropani land in Dillibazzar which is now used as a prison.

Director of Department of Postal Service Rajan Poudel said evacuating the GPO was troublesome as engineers hired by the GPO were not allowed inside the area to take measurements. He further added that they would not move their office until the prison was shifted somewhere else.

The historic 225-feet tall tower was built by Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa in 1825 and the tower was later reconstructed to almost half its size after it was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1934. NRA is now set to rebuild Dharahara in its original design and size. The proposed new Dharahara will be approximately 294 feet tall with two elevators.