UNESCO gives clean chit to commercial building in Hanumandhoka Durbar buffer zone

8th Jan, 2018 | Tourism Mail Crew

KATHMANDU, Jan 08: The Kathmandu Office of UNESCO has given a clean chit to an under-construction complex in the Hanumandhoka Durbar buffer zone, stating it has no objection to construction of the structure.

This is against UNESCO’s own statement issued on December 4, 2017. “We have learnt with much concern about the construction of commercial building and basement within the buffer area of Hanumandhoka Durbar Square World Heritage Monument Zone and inside the Protected Monument Zone,” UNESCO had stated in a letter addressed to builder Krishna Maharjan of Maharjan Business Associates Pvt. Ltd.

UNESCO had also urged the builder to abide by the rule of the Protected Monument Zone Bylaws, the Ancient Monument Preservation Act, to respect the maximum height limit of 35 feet and to avoid any adverse visual impact to the World Heritage  property.

However, in contradiction with its own letter, UNESCO has stated, “Firstly, the complex is outside the World Heritage property. Secondly, according to the plans, the construction will fully respect the allowable height limit and have a neoclassical style façade, matching with the surroundings, in particular with the Gaddi Baithak.”

UNESCO has also asked the authority in charge to closely monitor activities in and adjoining the World Heritage property, stating, “UNESCO has no objection to the ongoing construction of the complex.”

A joint report prepared by Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Kathmandu Valley Development Authority states that the commercial complex violated the approved blueprint. It has a basement covering its entire land area of 627.98 square meters and each floor of the building are also three feet taller than the required height.

UNESCO, however, says there was already an underground basement in the building and the additional basement is being constructed to strengthen the building.

Construction of the complex, however, has been halted following an order by Kathmandu Metropolitan City on November 24, 2017.

Aruna Nakarmi, the chief of Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Museum Development Committee, said “The UN body should apologize for supporting the ongoing construction of the commercial complex which is in clear violation of the Nepal’s Protected Monument Zone bylaws and the Ancient Monument Preservation Act.  The UN body should apologize and correct its recent statement.”

Locals have been staging protests demanding that the basement be filled as it posed a threat to a Malla-era treasury in the area. The treasury is guarded by army personnel all the time.

“The complex has already violated the standards set by the government. The construction of the basement is illegal. I really have no idea on what ground an international body like UNESCO issued a statement endorsing the construction. We won’t allow construction of the complex unless it meets prescribed standards,” said the Director General of the Department of Archeology, Bhesh Narayan Dahal.

UNESCO has also sent the letter to Department of Archeology, Hanumandhoka Durbar Museum Development Committee, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Maharjan Business Associates Pvt Ltd, and the Nepal National Commission for UNESCO and UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Paris informing them that the construction of the complex did not violate any law.