Pashupati trust removes concrete from Vishwarup temple site

- ANUP OJHA, Kathmandu

Feb 12, 2019-

After widespread criticism from conservationists, activists and locals, the Pashupati Area Development Trust has removed the concrete fill from the 12 pits that were dug for the reconstruction of the earthquake-damaged Vishwarup temple.

The trust had used concrete in the UNESCO World Heritage Site without consulting the Department of Archaeology and the local body. The Post had run a story on ‘unilateral and unlawful’ decision made by the trust on February 8.

After complaints from locals and conservationists, Deputy Mayor of Kathmandu Hari Prabha Khadgi, Narottam Baidya, a member of Province 3, Ram Krishna Shrestha, chairperson of Kathmandu Ward-9, cultural activists, conservationists and journalists had visited the  site last week (Thursday).

Khadgi, who leads a five-member inspection team that is currently overseeing many aspects of the post-earthquake reconstruction works in Kathmandu,  had directed Pradeep Dhakal, member-secretary of the trust,  to immediately remove the concrete fill from the temple reconstruction site.

“We have removed the concrete fill from all the pits. We will carry out reconstruction work only after consulting with the Department of Archaeology,” said Ramesh Upreti, executive director of the trust. The trust had allocated Rs2.5 million for the reconstruction of the temple which was damaged by the earthquake of April 25, 2015.

The trust claimed that the pits were dug to erect concrete pillars to surround the temple and hold up a truss from the upper section of the temple to start the reconstruction work.

The reconstruction work of the temple with its oblong structure topped by a distinctive Mughal onion dome shape was in limbo after the devastating quake. The temple, which was built in 1874 by Jung Bahadur Rana, has two massive 12-feet status of Shiva and Pravati, each with 1,000 heads.

“We will keep tab on everything. We don’t believe in trust’s announcement, because earlier also it had promised to consult with Department of Archaeology and local body, but it worked unilaterally,” said Ganapati Lal Shrestha, a heritage conservation activist.

According to the Ancient Monument Preservation Act 2013, structures over 100-year-old must be preserved in their original design. Any modification requires the authorisation from the Department of Archaeology.  

Time and again, the trust has been criticised for its singular decision-making practice regarding construction work on the Pashupati temple premises. It had even disregarded the Supreme Court’s order to stop the construction work of 170-metre concrete pavement leading to the Vishwarup temple at the cost of Rs 2.9million.

In December 2017, the trust had courted controversy for using concrete to rebuild the historic Bageshwori temple.

Published: 12-02-2019 10:35

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