Kathmandu, April 25

The Supreme Court today issued an interim order, telling the government to halt the ongoing construction of a building inside the buffer zone of UNESCO World Heritage site in Basantapur, Kathmandu.

A single bench of Justice Tanka Bahadur Moktan today issued the stay order in response to a public interest litigation filed by Executive Director of Propublic Senior Advocate Prakash Mani Sharma and 16 other people on April 23. The PIL demanded halt to construction of the commercial building.

The next hearing of the case has been scheduled for April 29 when the apex court will hear arguments of both parties to the case and determine if the stay order will have to be continued.

Petitioners have named the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Department of Archaeology, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Kathmandu Valley Development Authority, Hanumandhoka Durbar Museum, Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, Kathmandu District Administration Office, KMC-24 ward office and Maharjan Business Associates Pvt Ltd, among others, as defendants.

Maharjan Business Associates  Pvt Ltd has been constructing the building inside the buffer zone of Basantapur Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage site,  despite locals’ protest and the government’s  decree to stop further construction.

It has also violated the norms of the Protected Monument Zone Bylaws and the Ancient Monument Preservation Act by building the underground basement equal to the size of the building and exceeding the height limit.

The joint study of the KMC and KVDA shows the blueprint approved by KMC does not allow the owner of the building to construct basement, but he ignored the rules.

According to locals, the under construction building has endangered an adjoining underground treasury house which dates back to the Malla era.

The treasury is made largely impregnable as it is guarded by army personnel manned at the surveillance posts on four sides round the clock every day.

Locals have also demanded that the Kumari shrine be made public, but the owner of the building Krishna Maharjan had said it was “placed safely.”