NA contributes Rs 61.7 million for reconstruction efforts
KATHMANDU, Nov 7: Even as millions of rupees have been collected for the reconstruction of Dharahara tower from the government and the general public, the actual reconstruction work of the monument is yet to begin due to the delay in finalizing its design.
With donation of about Rs 61.7 million from Nepal Army on Monday, the total fund for reconstruction of Dharahara has reached about Rs 3 billion, according to Dinesh Thapaliya, secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC).
The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has been authorized to prepare the design before commencing the reconstruction works. The ministry, however, is still working on its new design. The ministry is in a fix over how to finalize the design after it was decided to incorporate lands owned by the Postal Office and Mint Department within the premises of Dharahara.
According to Bhesh Narayan Dahal, director general of the Department of Archeology, the cost of its construction has increased significantly after the government decided to add 23 ropanis of lands for Dharahara by shifting the existing Postal Office and Mint Department. Initially, it was decided to provide only eight ropanis of land for the tower.
“The new design, drawings, construction projects in additional land have added to its cost significantly. We can estimate the construction cost only when the new design is finalized and the tender for its construction is appealed,” he said, adding that a new construction plan for Dharahara will be proposed in the cabinet meeting for approval this week, and the construction works would soon follow.
The government decided to build a modern Dharahara right next to the ruins of the two centuries-old tower which crumbled in last year’s devastating earthquake, killing over 50 people. Unlike the old structure which was of 9-storey, the to-be constructed Dharahara will be of 11 stories, soaring to a height of 245 feet.
The new tower will have an underground museum and a lift. The nearby Mint Department will be turned into a numismatic museum and there will be a two-storey underground parking facility where the post office is now located next to the historical Sundhara. Likewise, MoIC said a park will also be constructed.
The reconstruction efforts of Dharahara tower had begun with the “Mero Dharahara Ma Aafai Banauchu (I will make my Dharahara)” campaign launched by the then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
However, as the campaign could raise only a few million rupees, Nepal Telecommunication (NT) proposed to add the remaining required amount to build the iconic tower. MoIC Secretary Thapaliya, who is also the chairman of NT, informed that the telecommunication giant has set aside Rs 2.5 billion for the reconstruction of Dharahara.
The government was criticized for deciding to hand over the reconstruction of Dharahara to NT. Before the collapse, Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) had contracted a private firm, Sidewalk Company, to issue permission for visitors to climb up the Dharahara tower and also to oversee its overall management. The contract signed in 2004 clearly mentions that Sidewalk should be responsible to repair the damage to Dharahara tower in case of natural disaster. It took months to decide over whether Sidewalk should reconstruct the tower as per the agreement.
Later, against the spirit of the contract, the government handed the reconstruction to NT instead, citing that a small firm like Sidewalk would not be able to handle such a massive project. The decision had come under severe criticism and scrutiny from all corners.
The government is planning to conclude the construction within three years.