UNESCO allows construction at Nepal heritage site
Kathmandu [Nepal], Jan 7 : The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Sunday gave the green signal to the construction of a temple complex in the Hanumandhoka buffer zone, which falls in the Durbar Square, located in the Kathmandu Valley. The UNESCO office in Kathmandu, in a statement, said that it had no objection to the construction of the temple, reported the Himalayan Times. The statement comes days after the UNESCO had issued a statement on December 4 last year. It said: "We have learnt that 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." The temple complex at the Hanumandhoka site in Durbar Square is being constructed by the builder- Maharjan Business Associates Pvt Ltd. The UNESCO has also urged the builder to respect the rule of reaching the maximum height limits of 35 feet, as prescribed by the Protected Monument Zone Bylaws and the Ancient Monument Preservation Act, to avoid any structural damage to the temple complex. It has also asked the local authorities to closely monitor the constructionactivities. However, in contradiction with its own letter, the UNESCO has clearly 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 facade, matching with the surroundings, in particular with the Gaddi Baithak".` The UNESCO has also sent the letter to the country's archaeology department, Hanumandhoka Durbar Museum Development Committee, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Maharjan Business Associates Pvt Ltd, Nepal National Commission for UNESCO and UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Paris, informing them that the construction of the complex did not violate the law. A joint report prepared by Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Kathmandu Valley Development Authority stated that the commercial complex had violated the approved blueprint. It had a basement covering its entire land area of 627.98 square metres and each floor of the temple complex was around three feet taller than the required height. The UNESCO, however, has maintained that there was an underground basement already in the complex, and an additional basement was being constructed to strengthen the building's foundation. Construction of the temple complex, which was on after the 2015 earthquake was halted, following an order by Kathmandu Metropolitan City on November 24 last year, after the locals had staged a protest demanding that the basement should be guarded as it posed a threat to the Malla-era treasury in the complex. However, the treasury is being guarded by army personnel at all times. Nepal was rocked by a massive earthquake in April 2015. The quake also damaged various monuments and temples within the Durbar Square, which is also a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site, in the Kathmandu Valley. Parts of the Hanumandhoka temple were also damaged. The earthquake in Nepal was the worst-ever disaster to struck in the country, killing over 9,000 people and rendering thousands of them homeless.
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