Conservationists demand reconstruction of the heritage site in its original structure
KATHMANDU, Aug 18: As the reconstruction of Rani Pokhari is delayed due to friction between locals and government authorities over its reconstruction modality, heritage conservationists have demanded the reconstruction of the historical pond in its original form without further delay.
The reconstruction of Rani Pokhari and Gopaleshwor Temple, key heritage sites of the Kathmandu valley that were destroyed in the devastating earthquake of 2015 has been stalled for months. Amid controversy over its reconstruction modality, it was reported that the government assigned Nepal Army to rebuild the heritage.
But the Department of Archaeology, the body responsible for reconstructing cultural and archaeological sites damaged in the earthquake, ruled out the media reports. It has not yet made it clear who is reconstructing the quake-ravaged heritage site.
Previously, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) was mandated to rebuild the Rani Pokhari in consultation with the DoA. Irked by the contractors' move to use concrete wall instead of using stone and mud, the locals had padlocked the main gate of Rani Pokhari.
KMC Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya had opposed the move to obstruct the reconstruction. Since then, the reconstruction works have been affected.
Heritage conservationists blame government authorities for delaying the reconstruction after failing to build the heritage in accordance with their will.
“DoA is processing the reconstruction work as per their interest. The concrete walls are built and without testing soil condition, loaded heavy vehicles are taken inside the Pokhari,” said Alok Siddhi Tuladhar, a heritage conservationist.
Locals are dismayed with the government's inaction.
When asked about the government's decision to mandate the army to rebuild Rani Pokhari, DoA Director General Bhesh Narayan Dahal said there is no such written document about the matter.
“The public does not need to believe the Nepal Army matter published by any media or source as it has not been declared,” said DG Dahal.
Heritage conservationists are worried about the construction of concrete wall and damage to sculptures and temple inside Rani Pokhari.
Sanjay Adhikari, another heritage conservationist, demanded the government study the condition of Rani Pokhari and conduct a soil test before starting the reconstruction.
“It should be designed according to its old structure and the same old materials should be used in reconstruction,” said Adhikari.
The conservationists have also demanded to book those involved in constructing infrastructure inside the Rani Pokhari flouting heritage standards.