Wednesday, October 21, 2020

President inaugurates Rani Pokhari

 President Bidya Devi Bhandari today inaugurated the restored Rani Pokhari and Durbar High School.

The historic monuments – damaged in the 2015 Gorkha earthquake – courted controversy as the Kathmandu Metropolitan City Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya forwarded a commercial complex construction plan including shopping complex and swimming pool, instead of the iconic pond’s reconstruction. The President had inaugurated the quake-ravaged Rani Pokhari restoration work in 2016 during her first tenure as the president but it took 4 years after the Mayor’s commercial reconstruction plan was opposed by the historians, conservationists, heritage lovers, archeologists and the locals. The project that went through many failed starts and restarts, causing work delays and cost overrun cost more than Rs 240 million to restore it. However, the National Reconstruction Authority today claimed that the restored Balgopaleshwor temple, situated at the centre of the pond, is ready to be opened for the public during the Bhai Tika and Chhath festivals this year.

It will be soon handed over to the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, the NRA informed, adding that the restoration work of the pond as well as Balgopaleshwor temple was carried out by CM Tulshi JV. “The temple has been restored in its original form, in Shikhara style, as King Pratap Malla had constructed it in 1670 AD.”

The Kathmandu Metropolis had also drawn flaks from conservationists for the use of modern construction materials to build the historic site. Kathmandu Metropolitan City has claimed that it will issue guidelines for the conservation of Rani Pokhari, but the conservationists suspect that it will hand over the icon pond might use it for the benefit of business people, instead of conserving it. Another historic tower –Dharahara – has already been leased out for businesses to earn money by the metropolis to earn money, though the NRA chief executive officer Sushil Gyawali said they are aware about the concerns raised by conservationists.

Meanwhile, President Bhandari also inaugurated the new restored building of Durbar High School – the first school of the country – today. The school building – built by a Chinese company Shanghai Construction Group – cost Rs 850 million. 

The school – built by Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana in 1853 to educate the upper ruling class – has become the school for poor lately.

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