Nepal's government approves funding to rebuild and restore the heritage sites damaged in April's massive quake
Almost three months after being hit by a massive earthquake, the country is slowly travelling along the road to recovery. While much of the relief effort is still focusing on humanitarian aid, the Nepalese government is now also turning its attention to rebuilding and restoring the country’s heritage sites.
In addition to the Rs2 billion Bt672 million) allocated to the restoration of archaeological structures in the budget for the next fiscal year, the government has also pledged to create a separate Heritage Fund, thus bringing hope that the country can recover its lost heritage.
“No stone will remain unturned to revive Nepal as one of the world’s most attractive destinations by restoring our unique features,” Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat told the Parliament last week while presenting the budget.
Historical heritage, temples, infrastructure, monasteries and mosques damaged by the quake will be constructed and their original shape maintained through the use of new technology, he added.
Out of the Rs74 billion allocated to National Reconstruction Fund, Rs2 billion is meant for archaeological structures alone. The fund will also have a provision for a separate Heritage Fund for which contributions will be collected from Nepalis around the world through the “Our Heritage-Our Responsibility” campaign, Mahat announced.
Apart from the reconstruction fund, an additional Rs17 billion has been allocated for general rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged structures.
According to the Department of Archaeology, a total of 745 historical, cultural and religious monuments in 20 districts were damaged by the Great Earthquake and its aftershocks. Among them, 133 have been destroyed, while 612 have sustained partial damage. An estimated Rs 20.56 billion will be required to rebuild the damaged monuments, according to the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment report prepared by the National Planning Commission.
The department’s Director General Bhesh Narayan Dahal is delighted with the government allocation, noting that an assessment of damage and requirements has been completed and the fund will be used for the next phase, which is restoration.
Additionally, the government has decided to levy a one-per-cent tax on telecommunication service fees, which will be deposited in the Heritage Fund.
Permission is also likely to be given to several private organisations, which have expressed willingness to rebuild damaged historical and cultural monuments, especially the Dharahara tower in Kathmandu, with the proviso that the shape, design and quality are approved by the government.
It is hoped that the restoration activities will prevent Kathmandu being taken off the World Heritage List by Unesco. The UN agency’s World Heritage Committee has given Nepal a year to take correctional action before reviewing the status of monuments.