Kathmandu, May 18

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today pledged to promote Lumbini as an international hub for Buddhism and a centre for peace while addressing a programme to mark the 2563rd Buddha Jayanti and the formal announcement of ‘Lumbini Visit Year 2019-20’ campaign.

During her address, President Bhandari insisted on need to develop Lumbini as a place to cater preaching of Gautam Buddha to the global community. “The road to prosperity is accomplished only through peace.

Lumbini should not just be promoted as a pilgrimage site but as a centre that guides the world on the roadmap preached by Buddha and encourages brotherhood in the globe.”

However, she lamented on the country’s failure to properly implement the master plan developed decades ago to develop Lumbini though the site has been listed as a World Heritage Site. “The country and the government should now give special focus to ensure that the master plan of Lumbini’s development is completed as soon as possible.”

On the occasion, Prime Minister Oli assured that the government will work for the development of Buddha’s birthplace as envisioned in the Lumbini master plan in coordination with Buddhist communities and other stakeholders. “Though development works in Lumbini were hampered in the past, the present government has been giving due priority to promote and develop Lumbini as a sacred site propagating the Buddha’s message to the world,” he said.

Similarly, Shankar Pokhrel, chief minister of Province 5, said that the provincial government is observing 2019-20 as Lumbini Visit Year especially to encourage domestic tourists to visit Lumbini. “Before promoting Lumbini in the international arena, we need to promote Lumbini and Buddha’s messages within the country itself,” he said.

Similarly, Pokhrel also urged the federal government to give high priority in addressing the bottlenecks for Lumbini’s development, including infrastructure bottleneck and help the provincial government in implementing the master plan for Lumbini’s development.

Meanwhile, Vice Chair of the Lumbini Development Trust, Ven Metteyya Sakyaputta, said that implementation of the master plan on Lumbini’s development has gathered pace in recent years and will be completed within the next three years.