Private company making money at historic Dharahara site without paying rent to KMC

Kathmandu, October 15

Sidewalker’s, a private company which was entrusted with managing Dharahara in Sundhara, Kathmandu, until the historic tower collapsed in the 2015 earthquakes has been using the site for business purpose without paying lease amount to the government.

Sidewalker’s Traders Pvt Ltd has been running a fast-food restaurant at the site and has also been leasing other 18 fancy shops. It has not made any payment to Kathmandu Metropolitan City for the last 18 months, with the due amount now reaching Rs 4.6 million.

The company on February 11, 2006 had acquired the license to run and manage Dharahara and allow people to visit the site paying a certain fee. It had signed a lease contract with KMC 20 years ago.

Locals have complained that the company, which also has the responsibility of preserving the site, has been left unchecked and thus allowed to make money for itself.

Rajesh Dangol, a resident of Khicha Pokhari, who was a member of Dharahara disaster management committee, and who helped clear the rubble from the site after the earthquakes, said he was shocked to see businesses operating at the site, which needed to be protected.

We led dozens of delegations to KMC, urging it to intervene in the business at a place where dozens of people were killed, but our demands have fallen on deaf ears,” Dongol said.

Chairperson of KMC Ward 22 Kazi Maharjan said, “I want to make it clear that since I am also a resident of this ward, I am strictly against allowing a private company to take control over our cultural heritage, and therefore we will definitely work towards collecting the due revenue.”

Revenue division chief of KMC Mahesh Kafle said, “We have time and again sent letters to Sidewalker’s, asking it to make timely payment and clear the due amount, but to no avail. We will have to take strong action against the company if it keeps refusing to pay the amount.”