NT, DoA split on Dharahara design

  • DoA says it is worried about the ‘archaeological value’ of Dharahara being lost if NT is allowed to move ahead as per its own plan

Kathmandu, July 17

The reconstruction process of Dharahara has been delayed, as the Department of Archaeology  and Nepal Telecom have stuck to their stances regarding the design of this historically significant archaeological site.

Nepal Telecom, which has been authorised to rebuild Dharahara, has asked DoA to add more features to the design that was forwarded by the latter for viable operation of Dharahara. However, DoA says it is worried about the ‘archaeological value’ of Dharahara being lost if NT is allowed to move ahead as per its own plan.

As a custodian of the archaeological sites of the country, the DoA has prepared a design to rebuild Dharahara and the Cabinet has authorised Nepal Telecom to rebuild the historic site. NT and DoA have sought help from their parent ministries — Ministry of Information and Communications and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, respectively — for a way forward.

After the design was submitted about two months back, there have been numerous rounds of meetings between NT, DoA and National Reconstruction Authority officials with the two aforementioned ministries.

The DoA has proposed to build Dharahara on 23 ropanis of land that belongs to the General Post Office and Taksar Department of Nepal Rastra Bank, which are close to the present site of Dharahara.

The total cost of the project is expected to hover around Rs 3.67 billion, which includes restoring the structure of Dharahara.

The ravaged structure of Dharahara will be preserved at the same location as the memorial of those who lost their lives in 25 April 2015 earthquake and a new 245-foot, 11-storeyed Dharahara will be built at the site where the General Post Office is located. The new structure will be built with modern construction materials, with two elevators. However, the outer façade of the structure will be similar to the original one, according to Mandakini Shrestha, deputy director general of DoA. Completing the construction of Dharahara as per the design submitted by DoA is expected to take three years from the date of initiation.

However, NT has said that it wants to add some more features in the vicinity of Dharahara, such as a fountain, space for cultural music and a modern garden. “We are not saying that the archaeological site should be operated on a commercial scale, but at least it should be able to generate its operational cost,” said Sunil Pokharel, head of Civil Infrastructure Department of NT.

“The internal rate of return will be two per cent while rebuilding Dharahara as per the design proposed by DoA,” Pokharel added. He said at least 10 per cent internal rate of return was a must to make the project viable.

NT has said it is willing to bear the extra cost for additional features. It is expected that the cost of building Dharahara will shoot to around Rs 6 billion.