Road threatens to knock down historic spouts

Bhaktapur, June 9:

The cultural city of Bhaktapur will lose 12 Malla period ancient stone spouts that have been a lifeline for the local residents, thanks to the government’s project to expand the road from Sallaghari to Nagarkot.

Bhatapur is one of the seven zones, which make Kathmandu Valley a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The government recently revived its road project to boost tourism industry in Nagarkot.

The ancient city of Bhaktapur has 88 water spouts, constructed mainly during the Malla period, in 16th to 18th century, most of which are still running.

The total amount of water discharged from the spouts come to around 300,000 litres

per day, according to a study, done recently by a forum of non-government organisations

working in water and sanitation sector. “I have heard that the government has renewed

interest in expanding the road to Nagarkot. The planned road-expansion project itself is praiseworthy but no one seems to have noticed that the expansion of the road will demolish 12 historic water spouts, which in fact are part of our cultural identity,” said Prem Suwal, the ex-mayor of Bhaktapur Municipality.

Former Mayor Suwal said he had proposed an alternative road to Nagarkot from north, which could save the spouts and also provide better access to the tourist hub of Nagarkot.

“But I can’t understand why the government did not show interest in the alternative road though I cleared all the documents from my side,” Suwal added.

Historian and expert on heritage of Bhaktapur Dr Purushottam Lochan Shrestha said each of the stone spouts are linked to a particular historical development or incident.

“Destroying or disappearance of one spout is akin to losing a large portion of our history.

We can create lot a of new things but we cannot rewrite our history. Loss of spouts also means an end to all cultural activities associated with them,” he said.

He further added that there could be an alternative road but the historic spouts once knocked down will be lost for ever.

He stressed that the spouts must be conserved, not only to meet the water demand, but for their historic importance. Baburam Adhikari, Chief District Officer of Bhaktapur, said Bhakapur needed both the road and the stone spouts.

“We are in a dilemma. We need both the road as well as the spouts. The awareness among the locals about the importance of conservation is a positive thing and I believe that it will throw up better alternatives,”

he said.