SINDHUPALCHOWK, Sept 2: It's been three months since the reconstruction of the quake-damaged Gyata Monastery of Mahakal, but the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) is yet to provide the reconstruction amount.
Officials of the debt-ridden local Monastery Management Committee, which reconstructed the monastery, are compelled to make rounds of various government offices seeking help. "We knocked every door possible but could not get any help," said chairperson of Gyata Monastery, Asharam Tamang.
This traditional Buddhist monastery was constructed years ago with local investment. However, it collapsed in the massive earthquake of 2015. Two years ago, the local committee and NRA had signed an agreement of Rs 5.1 million for the reconstruction of the monastery.
According to Chairperson Tamang, the committee had to spend Rs 10 million for the reconstruction of the monastery. "I had to make personal investment of around Rs. 5 million while the local committee managed the rest of the money through loan," he said. He laments that the monastery has left him and the committee debt-ridden. He had to sell two plots of his land for arranging money to rebuild the monastery.
With this, Gyata has become the only monastery in the district to be reconstructed after earthquake. Members of the committee have expressed their disappointment towards the authority for involving it in various hassles instead of appreciating its effort. "We are planning to go to court against the authority demanding the grant," said Chairperson Tamang.
There are so many monasteries in the district that had forwarded the reconstruction process expecting timely grant but now are forced to leave the process halfway. Three years after the devastating quake, more than half of the damaged monasteries are yet to be reconstructed. A large number of monasteries started the rebuilding process following the agreement with NRA but they have been heading nowhere now.
According to Madhav Jung Karki, manager of the Project Implementation Unit of NRA, it has been two years since the authority has given no direction to forward the reconstruction of monasteries.
With majority of Buddhism following communities such as Tamang, Sherpa, Gurung and Hyolmo, Sindhupalchowk was earlier known as 'a village of monasteries'. Tourists from different parts of the country used to visit the district to observe its historical charm. In lack of monasteries, even the statues of Gautam Buddha have been kept in makeshift tents.
In Sindhupalchowk, earthquake damaged altogether 200 monasteries, according to Karki who is also a senior engineer. In fiscal year 2016/17, NRA had sanctioned Rs 60 million for the reconstruction of more than 150 monasteries. Later, the budget was returned after people complained that it would not be enough. Since, then there has been no progress in monastery reconstruction.