TU constructs ‘illegal’ building on public land

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 1:

Tribhuwan University has started constructing an "illegal" building inside the premises of Jamal Bahal which houses the original temple of Seto Machhindranath. The final performance of the 12-year festival of Bhadrakali mask-dance is performed inside the temple premises.

A series of constructions is being carried out on the land around the temple. However, the neighbours have not been informed which is a prerequisite according to building regulations. The locals claim that the land is public and the TU does not even have a land-ownership certificate.

The locals of Jamal Bahal were forcefully evicted by the Rana rulers. Later, the land went into the hands of Tribhuwan University where it established the department of examinations. The land had remained almost vacant after the department was shifted to Balkhu.

"TU has again started construction work despite our protests. It is neither ready to show us the design nor can it produce the land-ownership certificate," said Shyam Man Bajracharya, chairman of Maitri Bodhisatwa Mahavihar Sudhar Sahayog Samiti (MDMSSS) today. He said the committee has filed an application at the KMC Ward No 1 office to stop the construction work.

In response, the ward office issued a letter to TU yesterday asking it to immediately halt the construction. "We will have to go to the court to stop the construction work which is still continuing," he added.

Kamal Man Bajracharya, "Thakali" (chief priest) of the monastery, said the area is part of the religious monument and making any construction, either for a campus or commercial purposes, will directly hamper the sanctity of the ancient monument. He said that religious programmes like worships, meditation, rituals of Ihi (coming of age ceremony of Newari girls), among others, take place over here throughout the year. The controversy over the construction work has threatened our heritage, he said.

Ward chairman, Yogendra Kumar Shrestha, who had yesterday issued a notice to stop the construction today changed his tone and said that TU is entitled to construction work as the land was given to it as per the cabinet decision in 1975. However, officials at the Jamal section of TU refused to show the building design and preferred to remain silent when asked about the land-ownership certificate.