Kathmandu, January 8
Nepal Student Union opted for a unique and creative way of exposing the failure of the government to rebuild the historical Rani Pokhari today.
NSU, the student wing of main opposition party Nepali Congress, organised a football tournament on the bed of the dried pond as a symbolic protest against government inaction. NSU dubbed the tournament as ‘Rani Pokhari Football Cup, 2018’ and it was written on a black banner. The banner also sported a picture of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli kicking a football.
NSU said it was a satirical protest held to pressure the government to reconstruct historical and archaeological monuments destroyed by the 2015 earthquakes without further delay. Students from Tri-Chandra Multiple College, Shankardev Campus, Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus and Nepal Commerce Campus participated in the mock football tournament.
Dilliram Subedi, NSU vice-chairperson, said, “Rani Pokhari is the tip of the iceberg to highlight the government’s failure in rebuilding historical monuments destroyed during the 2015 earthquakes throughout the country.”
Reconstruction of Rani Pokhari has yet to begin although the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari and Kathmandu Metropolitan City Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya had pledged to begin reconstruction work by May 15 last year. KMC officials said they were still working on a new blue print for reconstruction as per the suggestions offered by an 11-member expert committee.
National Reconstruction Authority, Department of Archaeology and KMC had, on December 28, 2017, formed the committee and entrusted it with suggesting the reconstruction model of the historical site.
The committee had suggested that all structures in the pond, including the temple of Bal Gopaleshwor, be restored according to their Malla-era design. Three members of the committee, who are also employees of DoA, however, have not signed the report.
Considering protracted bureaucratic process, it is almost sure that work on reconstruction of the historic pond will not begin any time soon. Reconstruction had been halted multiple times after locals and activists protested the use of modern technology and materials two year ago.
A total of Rs 25 million was wasted after a dispute emerged among locals, Department of Archaeology, and Kathmandu Metropolitan City regarding the reconstruction model of the temple.
Earlier, Worldwide Kandel KN KG JV was given the contract to reconstruct Rani Pokhari. Built by King Pratap Malla in 1670, the Balgopaleshower temple was originally built in Dharma Kuth aka Shikara style. The temple was later rebuilt in Mughal style after it was damaged in the great earthquake of 1934.
A version of this article appears in print on January 09, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.