KATHMANDU, July 25
Hanumandhoka Durbar Square that suffered huge damage during the April 25 earthquake may have been reopened for general public, but there are certain sections on its premises which have been declared prohibited zones, given the vulnerable structures. But many visitors do not seem to be giving two hoots to the official notice of prohibited zones, as they are seen sitting or strolling under vulnerable structures that have been standing with the support of wooden beams. Some vendors are doing business under the precarious structures. The fact highlights lack of enforcement measures by authorities to keep visitors and vendors away from the vulnerable structures.
About 90 per cent of the heritage structures are marked ‘restricted zones’.
During a brief tour by this daily, vendors were seen operating their stalls from under the vulnerable traditional resting platforms and some tourists were found resting, reading and chit-chatting under the cracked platforms near Gaddh Baithak.
For a local vendor like Raman Maharjan, 55, of Ason, running business from under the vulnerable structures is not a choice but a compulsion. “I don’t have any other means of livelihood besides running my handicraft stall under these cracked resting platforms. It is the perfect place for selling handicrafts for tourists,” said Maharjan, admitting that there was risk involved.
Ravi Tamang, 35, of Dharan, who was sleeping under a temple supported by wooden poles and iron beams, said there are many others, including sadhus, yogis, street children, beggars and rag pickers who have no other place to go, also use these cracked structures to spend nights.
“Temples are only places where homeless, destitute and poor people can go,” he said
Young couples too were found sitting and chatting under vulnerable structures in the area. Visitors tend to ignore ‘restricted zone’ notice and get nearer to vulnerable structures to take pictures.
Devotees to enter the damaged temples to offer prayers that could be risky.
Sita Shakya, 62, of Tebahal, admitted that despite knowing that some temples have been marked restricted zones, she enters to offer prayers.
“I have been offering prayers to these deities for years like this,” she said, adding that nobody has stopped her from entering these damaged temples.
Toya Nath Subedi, a tour guide, warned that the cracked structures around the heritage sites were suffering further damage by monsoon.
A version of this article appears in print on July 26, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.