| May 23, 2019

Design dispute delays Kasthamandap reconstruction

KATHMANDU, June 1: Dispute over the design of Kasthamandap Temple between the Department of Archaeology (DoA) and the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) office has cast a doubt on the reconstruction of the temple.

The DoA had handed over the detailed technical design of the pagoda-style temple to the KMC about two months ago with inputs from various experts. While handing the design, the DoA had stressed the KMC to stick to the traditional design and reconstruct the temple in its original form to protect its archaeological value.
The temple, also known as Maru Sattal in Nepal Bhasa, was completely damaged by the devastating earthquake last year, killing more than a dozen people.

But the KMC said that the design provided by the DoA was incomplete and it cannot carry out the temple's reconstruction as per the design, leaving the reconstruction work in limbo.

According to KMC chief and executive officer Rudra Singh Tamang, the KMC has not approved the design as it has some technical errors. "We got the design from the DoA but we found that the design has some faults. So, we have decided to review the design and improve it before carrying out the reconstruction," he said. "It was also the DoA's responsibility to test the soil of the temple area as it would give the details of the ground condition upon which the temple was sitting. We still do not know if it is appropriate to reconstruct the temple in the same place or not. So, there is no plan for its reconstruction for now."

But DoA officials claim that their design has no fault. "The KMC should implement the design we have provided them. It has no such technical faults," said engineer Sampat Ghimire of the DoA. "They cannot change the design and, like we said earlier, they should strictly follow our design."

He said that the design was finalized in the end of March following frequent discussions with locals, experts and officials. "We finalized the design after intense deliberations with experts, which took almost six months. And there is no fault," Ghimire added.

However, KMC engineers said that the temple's foundation and connection points may not be strong if the DoA's temple design is implemented. "So, we are reviewing how the design can be changed to make the foundation of the temple and other connection points stronger," said KMC engineer Archana Shakya.

The DoA has estimated that it would cost Rs 19.16 million for the reconstruction of the temple in the same shape and deign as before. The DoA has also directed the KMC to reuse the artistic and remaining wooden structures as far as possible.

"Though we have to reuse of the artistic elements as much as possible for the renovation of the whole temple, the DoA has not given us the details of the artistic elements to be used," KMC chief Tamang said, "If the DoA sends us the details about how much remaining wooden elements can be reused in the temple, we can estimate how much new wooden structures need to be added and how much they would cost. So, the delay on the part of the DoA has further obstructed the temple reconstruction."

DoA officials also said that they have requested Timber Corporation to manage the needed timber for the temple reconstruction.

DoA engineer Ghimire said, "Many artistic wooden structures of the collapsed temple still can be reused. We are collecting the valuable and artistic structures among the salvaged items from the temple's debris for reuse."