Remains of heritage structures damaged in quakes rotting in rain

KATHMANDU: The remains of quake-damaged structures of Kathmandu Durbar Square, which got baked in the torrid heat of summer are now getting drenched in monsoon rains, stoking fears that they might turn unusable.

Wooden pillars, struts, windows, artifacts and doors of heritage structures that were flattened by the massive earthquake of April 25 are in immediate need of care. In addition, they are facing risk of termite infestations.

The remains of the heritage structures are mostly made of pine and saal. With no due attention being paid, they have slowly started to rot.

Green algae patches can be seen on the walls of white Gaddi Baithak, Shiva Parbati Temple, Basantapur Tower and other partially damaged monuments of Basantapur.

“The parts that we had managed to salvage are now rotting,” said Toya Nath Subedi, Secretary of Kathmandu Preservation Project, adding: “The cracked walls and roofs are likely to collapse due to heavy rains.”

Smell from the structures which are wet due to rains is causing trouble to visitors, while they are filled with bird droppings, creating visual discomfort.

The authorities have barricaded the salvaged parts with makeshift tents and zinc sheets.

Heritage Activist Ganapati Lal Shrestha called for arranging a permanent storage house to stock and protect the salvaged parts. “The roofless barricaded zincs sheets being used currently are of no use,” he said. Locals have been consistently pressing the Department of Archaeology, Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Hanumandhoka Durbar Area Conservation Programme to do the needful to preserve the salvaged parts of the ruined heritage site, which are of historical and religious significance. “Negligence on the part of authorities is ruining the remains of the historical structures,” said Shrestha, adding that Patan and Bhaktapur Durbar Square had managed to preserve their salvaged parts in permanent shelters.