Dharahara reconstruction deadline to be missed due to manpower crunch amid lockdown

Published On: July 7, 2020 03:00 PM NPT By: Himal Lamsal

KATHMANDU, July 7: The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) had targeted completing the reconstruction of the earthquake-demolished Dharahara tower by October this year. However, due to the nationwide lockdown enforced on March 24, the reconstruction is sure to miss its completion deadline.

Reconstruction is likely to be pushed by another year owing to the slow work progress amid the ongoing nationwide lockdown. Rajuman Manandhar, a heritage expert at the NRA, said that the pace of works which are in progress even at this time of the pandemic has slowed due to manpower crunch.

“Prior to the lockdown, more than 300 laborers used to work on a daily basis, however, the number has dropped to only 40 as most of them have returned home in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Manandhar claimed that DPC of the 17 storeys would have completed if there had not been a lockdown.  

Acknowledging the fact that the reconstruction will not complete within the stipulated time, Manandhar said that a decision regarding the extension of the deadline will be taken considering the impact of the lockdown, application received from the construction firm and other various aspects.  “It is yet to be decided how long the deadline will be extended..

The heritage has reported only 40 percent progress since the reconstruction kicked off 22 months ago. More than a billion rupees has been spent so far for the reconstruction.

Meanwhile, the contractor has been preparing to bring the workers back from their villages after testing them for COVID-19 via the PCR method.  

GIEETC-Raman JV was awarded the contract for the reconstruction of the Dharahara for Rs 3.08 billion. Before this project was affected by the manpower crisis, two DPCs used to be completed on an average every month.

After the heritage was devastated by the 2015 earthquake, its reconstruction started in a new way. Although the outer part of the tower looks as if it is 11-story, it has 22 storeys.

The new tower is being built 10 meters north of the original one which was devastated during the earthquake. It will be 79.9 meters tall including a pinnacle. “The new tower resembles the old one. At the same time, it will be wider and stronger than the old one,” Manandhar said adding that the older one will be preserved inside the glass case as a monument.

The tower also known as Bhimsen Stambha was built by Bhimsen Thapa, the first Prime Minister of modern Nepal in 1832. Although it was an 11-story tower in the beginning, it was confined to nine after it was devastated by the 1990 BS earthquake. The 9-storey heritage with 213 steps in the spiral staircase was brought down for the second time by the massive earthquake May 25, 2015.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli laid the foundation stone of this heritage on January 27 back in 2018.

According to the NRA, the new structure will cover an area of about 42 ropanis. The lowermost part will be allocated for parking with a capacity of 347 four-wheelers. The Dharahara premises will have a garden, a museum, a colorful water-fountain, an exhibition hall and shops. The authority had also acquired the 15-ropani land of General Post Office to extend the area of the old tower. After demolishing the post office structures, other structures including the park will be built.

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