The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), ignoring any strong objections from the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) and the Department of Archaeology (DOA), said it would demolish the historic Bagh Durbar and build a new building in its place.
On Tuesday, KMC unveiled a design for KMC’s new building which is estimated to cost about NPR. 1.5 billion, even after amid widespread criticism.
The ancient palace, which houses several branches of KMC offices, was severely damaged by the Gorkha Earthquake in 2015.
The NRA and the DOA had written to the metropolis, asking it to drop its plan to demolish the historic Bagh Durbar; but instead, KMC advised to reconstruct the building.
On a press meet on Tuesday, KMC Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya tried to justify the metropolis’ decision to demolish the historic building Bagh Durbar, saying that the cost of reconstructing the ancient building would be higher than “the permission limit”. The KMC has said that the cost should not exceed 30% of the reconstruction cost. “The cost of retrofitting Bag Durbar stands at 36% of the total reconstruction cost,” KMC officials argue.
Mayor Shakya went as far as to claim that the actual Bagh Durbar was no more in existence. “Our research has found that the current building which houses the metropolis is built on the premises of Bagh Durbar. But its actual name is Hari Bhawan and this is not a historical palace as media reports have suggested because we have evidence to prove that the building is less than 100 years old,” said Shakya.
However, DOA Director General Bhesh Narayan Dahal is not ready to accept KMC’s logic. “The point here is saving a building with historic and archival importance. This is a palace used by the Rana rulers,” he said, adding the building was constructed with bricks that have the name of Juddha Shumsher engraved with dates 1934 and 1935.”
The new design has three outer façades with traditional design. The first façade projects the present model of Bagh Durbar, the second one shows the design from Lichhavi era and the third one is complete with a 15-stored multi-purpose modern view tower.
The KMC’s proposed new building has run into trouble as the renovation and reconstruction of heritage sites and historic buildings cannot be carried out without a DOA approval. But the KMC has claimed that as per Local Level Governance Act, the metropolis has the authority to build the new structure as per the existing standards.