Nepal Telecom retracts from Dharahara reconstruction



In a major setback to the government’s reconstruction drive, Nepal Telecom has pulled out of reconstruction of Dharahara — one of Kathmandu’s iconic landmarks that collapsed during the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015.

According to National Reconstruction Authority, it received a letter from NT on Tuesday stating the company’s unwillingness to rebuild the monument in Sundhara that had come to symbolise the havoc created by the deadly temblors over two years ago. “NT has stated in its letter that it is unable to rebuild Dharahara as per the design of the government,” informed Yam Lal Bhoosal, spokesperson for NRA.

As per Bhoosal, NT has cited two main reasons for pulling out of Dharahara reconstruction — the government’s refusal to let NT rebuild the monument as per a design that ensures sustainable operation of Dharahara after it is erected, and the local cultural communities being opposed to rebuilding Dharahara according to the design proposed by Department of Archaeology.

“We’ll take up the issue in the Cabinet soon, as the council of ministers had authorised NT to rebuild Dharahara,” Bhoosal told THT.

NT, however, has clarified in the letter to NRA that it is not backtracking from its earlier commitment to contribute almost Rs 1 billion for Dharahara’s reconstruction.

Meanwhile, NT officials said it had expressed interest in reconstructing Dharahara, as its rebuilding cost was initially estimated at around Rs 250 million and the historical monument was to spread over only four ropanis of land. “However, as per the DoA-proposed design, the reconstruction site has been expanded to more than 30 ropanis of land, with the rebuilding cost estimated at Rs 4 billion,” said Shovan Adhikari, spokesperson for NT.

According to Adhikari, NT was willing to reconstruct Dharahara as per the design of DoA at the given cost, if the government had made some modifications to the design and allowed NT to rebuild the historical site on a sustainable model.

NT had proposed to add more features in the vicinity of Dharahara, such as a fountain, space for cultural music and a modern garden, which NT believed was required to ensure sustainability of Dharahara.

“The government’s design of Dharahara also stated that 70 per cent of the total area used for Dharahara reconstruction had to be left vacant. However, this is not possible as a portion of the land meant for rebuilding Dharahara is a holy site where different communities perform various rituals,” said Adhikari.

However, DoA had been rigid on its design of Dharahara stating that allowing NT to go ahead as per its own plan and design would minimise the archaeological value of the historical monument.

The DoA had earlier come up with a design to preserve the ravaged structure of Dharahara at the same location as a memorial to those who were killed in the earthquake and a new 245 feet, 11-storeyed Dharahara would be built at the site where the General Post Office is located.

Meanwhile, NRA Spokesperson Bhoosal said NRA was likely to take it upon itself to initiate the Dharahara reconstruction process.

 September 22, 2017