Nepal Army personnel and locals removing the debris of a temple that collapsed in the earthquake at Kathmandu Durbar Square in this April 2015 photo. (Republica)
KATHMANDU, Oct 20: Thanks to budget constraints, the government is likely to miss its own deadline for completing the reconstruction and renovation of historical monuments that were ravaged by earthquake last year.
Officials at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) said the five-year deadline for completing the renovation and reconstruction of the monuments is sure to lapse as the ministry has been receiving far less budgetary funding than it has sought.
While the government this fiscal year allocated Rs 750 million out of the total of Rs 2.3-billion sought for reconstructing 145 wrecked monuments, it had last fiscal year allocated only a meager Rs 346 million out of the total Rs 1.9 billion sought.
According to Danduraj Ghimire, joint secretary at MoCTCA, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has released only one-third of the total budget sought by the ministry for expediting reconstruction and renovation of quake-damaged monuments.
“Our ministry had demanded the full budget for all 145 projects for this year, and we received just 33 percent of the total amount needed,” he told Republica. The budget will be utilized by the Department of Archaeology (DoA) and the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) to carry out renovation and reconstruction work on select monuments.
MoCTCA did not receive any special budget this fiscal year for spending directly on renovation and reconstruction of destroyed and damaged monuments other than those specified by NRA .
The NRA-allocated Rs 750 million is only for the DoA and PADT, and the amount has been divided into Rs 500 million and Rs 250 million for the two bodies respectively, according Ghimire.
“Due to lack of a reconstruction budget for the ministry, we are unable to budget funds for our sector. This is likely to delay reconstruction work at some monuments such as the Narayanhiti Durbar area, the Nepal Academy and Lalitkala Academy,” he further informed.
Last fiscal year, the government had allocated just Rs 346 million and the DoA used the funds to award reconstruction projects for 48 monuments to various contractors. The ministry had demanded a Rs 1.9 billion reconstruction budget for 104 monuments damaged by earthquake.
The government has set a target of completing reconstruction work on all the affected heritage sites by 2020. “The amount allocated shows that we cannot rebuild our damaged monuments in the stipulated time,” said a senior official at the ministry, requesting anonymity.
Bhesh Narayan Dahal, director general of DoA, informed that the department has so far initiated the tender bids process for rebuilding seven monuments with the current budget.
“The budget does not suffice to meet our targets. However, we have been requesting the National Reconstruction Authority for additional budget funds,” said Dahal.
Figures provided by MoCTCA show that earthquake damaged 750 monuments in 25 quake-affected districts. Of these, 133 monuments were completely destroyed. It is estimated that over Rs 2 billion is required for the reconstruction and renovation of all damaged monuments.