KATHMANDU, April 10 : After Prime Minister KP Oli expressed utter dissatisfaction over the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA)'s indecision about the fate of Singha Durbar, which houses the central secretariat of the government, Chief Executive Officer of the National Reconstruction Authority Yubaraj Bhusal is under pressure to decide whether to retrofit the structure or demolish the damaged portions and rebuild anew.
Even three years after the 2015 earthquakes, the NRA is still undecided about whether to retrofit the 114-year-old palace or demolish the damaged portion and rebuild anew.
"The prime minister is really dissatisfied with the delay in Singha Durbar reconstruction. He vented his ire saying that NRA is neither retrofitting the damaged structure nor rebuilding it," CEO Bhusal said quoting Prime Minister Oli.
According to him, the prime minister has asked the NRA to immediately decide about the fate of the palace and begin reconstruction work as soon as possible. "The prime minister questioned why the damaged structure was still in scaffolds if no work was in progress," he said. NRA had bought iron scaffolds worth Rs 20 million to study if the building can be retrofitted or not.
Bhusal said that the executive committee meeting of the NRA will make a decision about Singha Durbar next week. "Experts within the NRA are divided over whether to retrofit the palace or demolish the damaged portion and rebuild.
A committee led by NRA member Hari Ram Parajuli submitted a report to the NRA stating that the structure should be retrofitted and that a detailed study is needed for that. The team has even submitted a financial proposal to carry out further study. After that, the NRA also invited bids from consultants to make a detailed study for retroffitng the damaged portion.
But after the prime minister severly cricitized the NRA over the delay in the palace reconstruction and ordered the NRA to begin construction work immediately, the NRA through a notice in Gorkhapatra cancelled the bidding process for retrofitting until further decision.
"Three years have already passed without doing anything. It may take even longer if further study is needed. So, it has been really challenging to decide what to do with Singha Durbar," Bhusal said. Prior to the Parajuli-led committee, NRA had formed a committee which had, however, recommended demolishing the damaged portion and rebuilding in the old design.
"Next week, we are holding a meeting with all our experts on the matter. We cannot delay the reconstruction anymore. A decision has to be made," he added.
He said that the NRA will hold a meeting with the prime minister along with experts and decide whether to retrofit or rebuild.
Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher Rana had built Singha Durbar in 1903 as his residence. It was designed in neo-classical design. The palace had over 1,000 rooms arranged around seven quadrangles and was among the largest buildings in South Asia. The front wing of the palace was destroyed by fire in 1973.