Nepal | July 15, 2020

UNESCO pulls out of reconstruction project

Ujjwal Satyal
Share Now:

Kathmandu, July 9

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has decided to withdraw its support for the reconstruction of two heritage temples on the premises of  Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which suffered damage in the 2015 earthquakes.

Issuing a press release today, the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu stated it had withdrawn its support for the restoration of Jagannath and Gopinath temples following threats issued by some locals to the on-site workers.

Christian Manhart, UNESCO representative to Nepal, in a statement said, “UNESCO is saddened to pull out of the restoration project.”

According to the UN agency, right from the time when the reconstruction work started in the year-2018, some locals were demanding that the reconstruction work of the temples should be carried out without foreign aid.

Following the locals’ obstruction, UNESCO arranged a series of meetings with local community members, the Ministry of Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation, Nepal Reconstruction Authority, Department of Archaeology and Member of Province 3 Provincial Assembly Rajesh Shakya and continued the reconstruction work till 15 May 2019, according to UNESCO. It said despite the talks some locals kept issuing threats to the workers. “UNESCO has, therefore, decided to withdraw all its support for the project,” read the press release.

UNESCO said it had completed damage assessment drawings, architectural documentation, structural analysis, archaeological research of foundations and detailed retrofitting designs of the temples with the help of a team of local conservation experts and in close consultation with the Department of Archaeology, ward officials, local communities and priests.

It further sated, “All documentation of the restoration work has been handed over to the care of the DoA for completion of the remaining work to meet the international standards required for World Heritage Sites.”

Director General of DoA Damodar Gautam  said, “Although it’s good for locals and stakeholders to take ownership of heritage sites, we cannot welcome the move of the locals of issuing threats to the workers after UNESCO started the construction work.”

Many local activists and conservationists told THT that they would accept financial and other support from international agencies, but
the responsibility of reconstructing religious buildings should be given to local people.

UNESCO was reconstructing the temple in coordination with the Department of Archaeology. Japanese government and Nepal Investment Bank Limited were  providing financial support for the reconstruction.

In September last year, the DoA had to cancel its plan to entrust Japan International Cooperation Agency with the responsibility to reconstruct Agamche temple at Hanumandhoka area following locals’ protest. The locals had said that they themselves had to build the temple to preserve its religious value.

Gaddhi Baithak, one of the major heritage buildings at Basantapur, has already been restored with the support of the US government and a historic nine-storey palace is being restored by China.

A version of this article appears in print on July 10, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Mayur company resumes bus service in Kathmandu

Kathmandu, July 13 Mayur Yatayat Company resumed its bus services from today in Kathmandu valley amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision of Mayur Yatayat has come as a relief to commuters at a time when other public transportation entrepreneurs were refusing to operate their services citing f Read More...

‘Press freedom should involve accountability’

Kathmandu, July 13 Minister of Communications and Information Technology Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada said the CIT Ministry ought to start digitisation first, by utilising the advancement of information technology. As the government has adopted a digital framework, we should become paperless in our activ Read More...

Absconding murder suspect held after 13 years

Kathmandu, July 13 Police have nabbed one of the two prime murder suspects of the much-hyped Sitapaila murder case that had happened 13 years ago. Two workers at a saw mill had allegedly killed its owner, his wife and inflicted serious injuries to their 15-year-old son on the night of 2 Januar Read More...

US debates school reopening, WHO warns 'no return to normal'

MIAMI: The resurgence of the coronavirus in the United States ignited fierce debate Monday about whether to reopen schools, as global health officials warned that the pandemic will intensify unless more countries adopt comprehensive plans to combat it. “If the basics aren’t followed, there is Read More...


COVID-19 control, disaster management top priorities

Kathmandu, July 13 Tokha Municipality in Kathmandu has set priorities for containment of COVID-19 crisis and disaster management in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The municipality that is located in the northern belt of Kathmandu unveiled a budget for Rs 1.58 billion for the fiscal y Read More...

US budget deficit hits all-time high of $864 billion in June

WASHINGTON: The federal government incurred the biggest monthly budget deficit in history in June as spending on programs to combat the coronavirus recession exploded while millions of job losses cut into tax revenues. The Treasury Department reported Monday that the deficit hit $864 billion last Read More...

Apple says full return to offices not until the end of the year: Bloomberg News

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) has told its staff that a full return to US offices will not occur before the end of the year, Bloomberg News reported on Monday, citing an internal video message. The company is also pushing staff to work remotely as the virus forces the company to shut some of its stores agai Read More...

National, province-level awards conferred

The awardees also received cash prizes of Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50,000 Kathmandu, July 13 The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation honoured writers contributing to Nepali literature by presenting them with various national and province-level awards at an award distribution programme today. Read More...