Friday, December 29, 2000

Roja ends with zeal among Muslims

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Dec 28 - Hundreds of thousands of Muslims around the country, as well as the world over, celebrated the greatest Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, today, ending the month-long Roja, strict daylight fasting, with the sighting of the new moon.

For the whole month of Ramjan, Muslims do not eat or drink anything till the sun sets.Even swallowing saliva is considered to be a sin for the strict observers of Roja, compulsory to all adult Muslims of both sexes, they say. Eid ends in a delightful festival symbolising tolerance, love, friendship and hospitality.

On this day, the Muslims hug one another, brush away past enmity and promise one another a happy and friendly year to come. All Muslim households prepare sumptuous feasts and invite friends and relatives in a cheerful mood of sharing.

Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of Roja fasting. On this day, they invite guests, eat various dishes together and buy new clothes and give money to hermits and beggars. "Even the poorest of Muslim wishes to buy new cloth to mark this great festival and show his faith in Allah," they say.

Twenty-two years old Matin Uddin Shekh, who runs a clothes store at Khichapokhari said that following the strict rules of the month-long fast is just like climbing a mountain. "For the first half of the month, each day becomes difficult to pass and the second half is full of joy. The nearer you reach the end, your heart begins to fill with a holy excitement and you do your best to complete the cycle," he says.

"Naturally, we feel hungry. But, we do not seem to take notice of any foodstuff. A strange energy comes from within which keeps our sinful desires away," he adds.

Roja is compulsory only for adults, but his two-year-old nephew Nazir Shekh is also following it religiously.

Jaffar Uddhin of Nepali Jame Masjid said that the Muslims chose this month because it is the holiest in the whole year. "This month is chosen by Allah," he says.

Muslims believe the Koran, their holy book, was revealed to Mohammed over the Ramjan period, 1400 years ago. They say that this is a holy month by many means and any virtue done during this month is equal to doing it seventy times more during the rest of the year.

The month of Rajman is fixed according to Muslim calendar. But, the daily fasting period and the month also changes every year.

This month-long ritual teaches the people to live a modest and religious life. "The rules remind us of the roots of Islam, which should be the guidelines for the rest of life. Observing Roja for a month purifies us for the world’s betterment for the next 11 months," Uddhin said.

Shekh says, some may even escape by making some excuses,in cities, but in rural areas the whole village follows the fasting of Roja strictly. Only sick, elderly and new mothers are excused by the religion. "Nothing like modernisation has ever affected the people’s zeal to remain hungry for a month and celebrate the end of it as a great festival."

All religions consider fasting as a way of regular, religious life. The Muslims take fasting as one of the five basis of Islam; other four being faith, prayer, pilgrimage and donation.

According to 1991 national census, Muslim population in Nepal is around 665 thousand.
[Kathmandu Friday December 29, 2000 Paush 14, 2057.]

Saturday, December 16, 2000

Int’l meet to be held to safeguard Nepal’s heritage

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Dec 15 [2000]- The International Campaign for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage of Kathmandu Valley (ICSCHKV), which began here twenty-one years ago, is being terminated, and another programme that targets the preservation of heritage sites is to be launched soon.

Unlike the current campaign, the new program will cover all heritage sites throughout the kingdom.

A member of the UNESCO Evaluation Team, which was here last week to supervise heritage preservation works in the valley, informed The Katmandu Post that ICSCHKV is organising an international conference here from March 28 to 30 to work out a strategy and action plan for next program.

"The conference will work out a new vision for the new millennium and decide how to revive the campaign in broader and more effective ways, " he said.

The venue of the conference has not yet been fixed, but it could be in the historic city of Bhaktapur.

On the first day, the participants will analyze the achievements and failures of the previous campaign. On the second day, the participants will discuss papers presented at the conference and the concluding day will be set aside for strategy formulation and drawing up the new action plan.

Francis Childe, chief of the operational section for Asia and Pacific Division of Cultural Heritage, UNESCO Headquarters, during his recent visit said that the campaign would, among others issues, concentrate on providing training to the craftsman and technicians who are directly involved in preservation works.

Childe was one member of the evaluation team who stayed in the valley for two weeks - from November 28 to December 12. The others being Giles Proctor, an expert from English Heritage International and Keshav Raj Jha, the former Nepali ambassador to UNESCO.

The evaluation team surveyed the 20 heritage sites, met concerned officers and expressed mixed reaction on people’s awareness on heritage conservation.

ICSCHKV works constantly in the field of heritage conservation and raising public awareness in the Kathmandu Valley -- among the elite and illiterate locals. Some areas where it has worked include the Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and areas like Swayambhu, Pashupatinath, Bouddha, Panauti, Thimi, Dahachowk, Lubhu, Bungamati, Khokna, Bode and Dadhikot.

However, some local heritage experts complain that UNESCO is spending a big part of international donations on technical visits than on real conservation works. Out of total US 240,374 dollars, US dollars 62,601 has been spent on visits of experts to Nepal, they say.
Kathmandu Saturday December 16, 2000 Paush 01, 2057.
http://www.nepalnews.com.np/contents/englishdaily/ktmpost/2000/dec/dec16/index.htm#6

Friday, December 15, 2000

KMC composting plant rusting despite garbage pile

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Dec 14 - The Mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) Keshav Sthapit never forgets to demand 200-ropani of land from the government whenever he addresses a programme. He wants the land to establish a composting plant in a city overburdened by 350 tonnes of garbage accumulated daily. Meanwhile, a 16-year-old composting plant with a capacity to produce 60 tonnes of manure daily is lying abandoned in the KMC office premises itself.

The Solid Waste and Sewerage Management Project imported a composting plant from an Indian company in 1984 at cost of Rs 5.5 million. The project managed the garbage of the newly-emerging capital city for several years under the German assistance.

Nowadays, drug addicts use the huge apparatus left idle on the municipality premises as a hideout and rag pickers use it for storing their wares.

It produced as much as 40 tonnes of manure daily in 1990. After the political change of 1990, locals started to raise their voices against the plant, saying it spread a foul smell in the locality. The project stopped operating the plant and ultimately it phased out without proper handover.

"Everything was okay until the movement of 1990. After that, people made an issue out of the plant for their political gains," said Bishombhar Lal Pradhan, under secretary for solid waste management, Ministry of Local Development (MLD).

Pradhan was associated with the project in those days.

During those days, the manure produced by the plant was very popular among the local farmers as well as those from Lalitpur, Thimi and Bhaktapur. Pradhan said that demand for manure was so high that the traditional farmers had to queue for their manure.

However, producing manure for the sake of garbage management was not as practical as it sounds. Sanjeev Bajracharya, managing director of Social, Environment and Engineering Concern Pvt Ltd, said that though it helped quite a lot to keep the city clean, it was not economically feasible.

"You can repair the plant and run it again now. But still, composting the garbage and making money out of it is not a lucrative idea. For the production cost of one tonne of manure was around Rs 1,000 but we had to sell it at Rs 250 per tonne," he said. Bajracharya was one among those who played key role in establishing the plant in Kathmandu.

But, the KMC officers say that the plant is completely useless. Padma Sunder Joshi, the co-director of Kathmandu Valley Mapping Programme said, "It should be dismantled and sold in pieces.

Still, MLD’s Solid Waste Management and Resource Mobilisation Centre (SWMRMC) is taking steps to make the machine functional again. According to Devi Nath Subedi, the general manager of SWMRC, the MLD is working on a plan to use the abandoned plant.

"We have recently examined the plant. It has only rusted and one screening part is missing. We have not yet examined the maintenance cost but still, we are committed to repair it soon," he said.
[ Kathmandu Friday December 15, 2000 Mangshir 30, 2057.]

Friday, December 08, 2000

Private construction encroaches historic site

By Razen Manandhar

LALITPUR, Dec 6 - Despite the locals’ protest, a concrete house is being built, on war footing, encroaching a 2000 years old stupa site, directly opposite to the Lalitpur Sub-metropolitan City (LSC) office, say locals.

Anil Rajbhandari, a local resident of Lalitpur ward No. 3, has already built a concrete foundation and possibly a basement, too which is just a metre away from the Ashoka Stupa.

"We protested against this construction a month ago at LMC office," said Shyam Maleku Shrestha, a 76 year-old local resident. "But we don’t know what is going on between the owner of that land and municipality. But, they are not stopping it, though this is taking place under the nose of the municipality office," he added.

According to Shrestha, the house also encroaches upon a 240-year old historic rest house (Sattal) site, which holds ritual importance during the festival of Akshaya Tritiya and Indra Jatra.

An officer at the Department of Archaeology (DoA), on condition of anonymity, said that he rejected the construction proposal when the land owner came to seek permission a week ago. But, the owner later approached another officer and had the proposal approved "under strange circumstances," he said.

He also adds,"The building owner had faced several orders to stop construction in the past, whenever he tried to build it."

He also informed that the house owner had tried to obtain similar approvals number of times in the past but each time his bid to construct a house was foiled by DoA and the municipality.

However, Buddhi Raj Bajracharya, Mayor of LSC said, the building doesn’t encroach the historical site and also has not violated the rules and standing laws. "Those who oppose may have some vested interest," he added.

Bajracharya, however, informed that LSC had not given permission to the owner for the basement construction.

Documents at LSC show that Rajbhandari got the permission in September 1999. The blue print of the building bears signatures of the mayor, executive officer, acting engineer and representative of DoA.

Acting engineer at LSC Map Approval Department Badri Tamrakar said that LMC gave permission to build the house because the builder has followed all the criteria and also had the permission from the DoA, which is vital in such a sensitive region.

Historian Hari Ram Joshi said that finding ancient objects in that area is not unusual. "Excavation in that area would bring many important facts regarding the history of the stupa. But it is a shame that the government gives permission not only to build a house but also to dig a deep basement in that area."

He also recalled that, seventh century objects were found while building Nepal Telecommunication Corporation building at Naxal and a subway crossing at Bhotahity but the government did not stop the constructions.

Friday, November 24, 2000

KMC launches Household Waste Collection Programme

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Nov 23 - Kathmandu Metropolitan city (KMC) decided today to charge fee for its service of collecting garbage from approximately 130,000 houses and other commercial firms, in a bid to gather local participation in solving garbage disposal problem.

In a public notice issued Thursday, KMC Executive Officer Hari Prasad Rimal stated that those who overlook the decision would be subjected to pay a fine of up to Rs 15,000.

He said that this decision to operate the Household Waste Collection Programme was only an attempt to seek people’s cooperation in managing the pile of garbage in the metropolis. "Charging for the garbage would at least compel city-dwellers to reduce the amount of garbage and would also encourage them to reuse the waste as much as possible," he added.

"It will take time for the people to adjust to the habit but we will not let anybody litter the streets as before. Collecting the local’s names will continue for one or two weeks. The locals will pay after one month’s service," said Shanta Ram Pokharel, the chief of KMC’s Environment Department.

In the first phase, seven roads in the capital have been chosen for the project. The residents of Teku-Kalanki Road, Kalimati-Balku Road, Tripureshoar-Minbhawan-Tilganga Road, Maitighar-Putali Sadak-Kings Way, Singh Darbar-Kings Way, Sinamangal-Bag Bazar Road and Tripureshwor-Thapathali Road will not be allowed to throw garbage in the streets from Thursday onwards.

In these areas, containers will move around about between 6.30 to 9.00 a.m. and the locals must deposit their daily bulk of garbage in the vehicles. For this, they will have to pay from Rs 75 to Rs 20,000 monthly according to the nature of the institutes.

"An average family which produces around 10 litres of garbage daily will pay Rs 75 monthly. Whereas a five-star hotel producing 1500 litres of garbage daily should not dissaprove of paying Rs 20,000 monthly for managing its huge bulk of garbage," said Pokhrel.

However, KMC will not take responsibility for collecting hazardous, chemical, infectious and expired pharmaceutical wastes from hospitals etc unless the wastes is separated categorically.

Pokhrel said, "Although KMC was doing its best to manage the garbage, it apparently has failed in the past because the locals litter the streets when we finish collecting it."

He added,"Some so-called NGOs also create additional problems by collecting garbage from the courtyards and dumping it in the main streets. They collect money for littering the city."

Now such NGOs will have to obtain KMC’s permission to continue wih this practice.

A team of city policemen will accompany the KMC staff while visiting the locals door to door for "subscription" fees.

Deputy superintendent of city police Bishnu Singh Basnet said the a team have been appointed for enforcement of this new project. "We will fine the locals immediately if they are found dumping garbage at wrong time. Our jawans in point-duty and mobiles will inform us of such misconduct."

KMC spends around Rs 170 million annually to manage 350 tonnes of garbage Kathmandu produces daily.
[Kathmandu Friday November 24, 2000 Mangshir 09, 2057.]

Monday, November 13, 2000

Cultural city of Bhaktapur could face garbage problem

By Razen Manandhar

BHAKTAPUR, Nov 12 - The cultural city of Bhaktapur, one of the most appealing tourist destination of Nepal, could develop a garbage crisis soon if immediate steps are not taken, the locals said.

"Along with urbanisation and the growing tourism industry, use of plastic and other non-biodegradable objects are on the rise. But the local authority has not been working at the necessary pace to keep the possible hazard at bay before it gets out of hand," said a local shop-keeper Kaushal Ratna Bajracharya.

Similarly, historian Dr Purushottam Lochan Shreshta said that the municipality is showing more concern for cleaning tourist areas but the other areas of the city are neglected. "The entrance gates like Sallaghari, Mangal Tirtha and Hanuman Ghat have been turned into dumping sites."

The small yet unique city, just 12 kms east of Kathmandu, is dominated by local farmers. The residents traditionally compost the domestic waste in their backyards so the problem was not apparent earlier. But in recent years, the tendency to use plastic has become a threat to Bhaktapur’s small-scale solid waste management system.

Dr Shrestha said that before the problem escalates, the municipality must provide a permanent dumping site and keep the city free of the garbage heaps.

Bhaktapur city with a population of 70,000 produces around 18 tonnes of garbage daily and dumps it at Bhelukhel of Ward No 11.

An estimated 10 ropanies of land has been used for collecting the garbage from all 17 wards, sorting out the recyclable materials and composting it too. The composting plant does produce some one tonne of compost manure daily which is sold out to local farmers in the planting season but during other seasons the manure remains unsold.

Bhaktapur Municipality (BM) Sanitation In-charge, Dilip Kumar Suwal, said collecting the garbage has been going on but the garbage is not completely managed.

He has perceived the possibility of a hazard. "I don’t say the problem has started yet but the possibility cannot be overlooked," he said.

Bhaktapur Mayor Prem Suwal, said that the municipality is fully committed to control the spreading menace of garbage in the tourist city. The municipality allocated Rs 3 million to acquire a piece of land for a big-scale composting plant, but since the budget is not sufficient, he expects the government assistance.

"The problem of a dumping site must be solved soon. We are doing our best from our side. We have asked the government to assist the municipality in managing the garbage. It depends when we will get a hopeful reply."
[Kathmandu Sunday November 13, 2000 Kartik 28, 2057.]

Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Govt in search of new alternatives to garbage menace

Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Oct 23 - After being driven out by the local people’s protest at Chovar, the newly proposed landfill site, the government is in search of new possibilities to solve the capitals’s garbage crisis.

Secretary of Sanitation Sub-committee at Ministry of Local Development Bishombhar Lal Pradhan said making a landfill site in these days is an extremely difficult task.

He said, "We know nobody would lay red carpet for piles of garbage, but we are also working hard to meet all the local people’s demands so that we could get cooperation from them in this high-hitting crisis."

Pradhan said that dialogue with the representatives of Chovar as well as other sides is still going on and the ministry would take any step only after the locals are convinced.

Attempts of Ministry of Local Development to solve the problem of garbage once again faced a slap of failure on 18 October, even before the idea took any shape, when the locals of Chovar protested against the government’s proposal.

After being driven out from Guheshowori area, the slope around Chovar gorge was chosen as a short term solution for the bulging garbage which Kathmandu Metropolitan City has been collecting for the last two weeks in its small collection centre.

The government authorities and KMC planned to develop the barren area of Chovar as a landfill site and also to convert it into a composting plant for the over 300 tonnes of garbage the capital produces everyday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Development Ram Chandra Paudel himself took initiative to find a short-term landfill area to solve the crisis immediately.

But, as usual, the locals of Chovar, already hit by the irresistible pollution of Himal Cement Factory, made a series of protests against that proposal.

Mayor of Kirtipur Municipality Hira Kaji Maharjan said, "It is not proper to bring garbage of one place to another. We discussed on this topic and reached a conclusion that allowing any garbage dumping from another area is impossible."

The protests took a political turn when representatives of different parties took steps in forming protest groups, organising mass meetings and issuing press releases.

The locals claim that the controversy of Chovar is merely political and the leaders are "playing games" with the innocent locals.

Now, even the local Nepali Congress leader is not ready to support the government in this issue. NC Chairman of constituency no 7 of Kathmandu, Rajan KC said "Though I am affiliated with the ruling party, I have told the deputy prime minster that I can’t help the government in this issue."
[Kathmandu Tuesday October 24, 2000 Kartik 08, 2057.]

Monday, October 23, 2000

Ancient monument under army protection

[POST PLATFORM]
By Razen

Only a few among the thousands of ancient monuments in Nepal are fortunate enough to sleep under the army’s protection. The pagoda of Taleju Bhawani, built by King Mahendra Malla in 1564 AD, in the historic royal palace complex of Kathmandu is one among them. The Taleju temple is one of the excellent examples of the Gurkhas’ accountability to their duty.

The security is so tight that even the local citizens are allowed to enter the temple premises only once a year during Dasain.

Even foreign heritage experts and tourists are all barred from enjoying the gift of the eminent monarch. I was lucky enough to grab the opportunity and was delighted to see the monument, enlisted in the World Heritage List, for its commendable and exemplary preservation.

A huge tree was flourishing at the base of the temple — giving a balanced potpourri of natural and cultural heritage site scenario. Adorned with the maker’s statue, the pillars and tiles of the pagoda are covered with lush and healthy grass. The stone steps have caved in and are changing their position and the terracotta doors are turning into semi-abstract modern sculptures. Some bells could produce sound , while others don’t have handles — you need a stone to gong them. The brick pedestals are almost in ruin, yet strong enough to carry the piles of the stale junk, piled up over several years.

The heavily carved wooden doors might have been the best among the pagodas of Kathmandu. Now, the doors display cracks, moss, and insect moles. The struts with images of goddesses (some have got their hands amputated) are entangled with cobwebs and more.

On top of this, the idols in the torana of the highest temple of the capital are missing! I’ll bet, no thief can reach the restricted area without the army’s permission and they can never let a thief climb the elevated temple and steal the idols of archaeological importance. Missing idols no longer make phenomenal news, here. And in the Taleju temple too, the torana idols are not the only stolen images. Asking for proof? Sorry, photography is not allowed in the royal courtyard.

At least one or two among the sixteen surrounding small temples are in good conditions — a breath of satisfaction, indeed.

However, all the shelters made for the gun-carrying army guards next to the temples are safe.

Want to read some ancient inscriptions? Some are in bad shape, some painted with layers of fungi and lying in some odd places. They are not important because the guards can’t read them.

Don’t worry. The temple has been reconstructed and conservationists have even added new touches to its beauty. The carved doors are pierced, nailed down and wired so that electric lamps can illuminate the temple. Some portions of the steps and walls have been cemented and some additional cemented pillars have stood up for electric lights. Summing up the scene, we see only those parts of the courtyard are healthy which have been reconstructed in modern ways for the army. If so, why should we be hypocritical? Can’t we destroy all the monument and convert the whole courtyard into a barrack?

Let me read the stone pillar, now: Those who are responsible for deterioration would face the sins of killing a cow, a teacher, or a Brahmin and so and so... So what? The question goes on.
[Kathmandu Monday October 23, 2000 Kartik 07, 2057.]

Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Kathmanduites, are you ready to pay for your garbage?

Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Oct 16 - After Kathmandu metropolis faced new slap due to the five successive air accidents in the only international airport, Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) has finally taken step to bind its citizens with sanitation fee.

"The Authorised Solid Waste Management Committee of KMC has decided today to levy sanitation fee from each household of the metropolitan city to seek people’s help in minimising the volume of garbage," said KMC Executive Officer Hari Prasad Rimal on Monday.

Till now, the around 15 million citizens of the capital pay nothing to KMC for the management of over 300 tonnes of garbage they produce everyday. Only in some specific areas, local contractors levy fee for managing the litter of certain area who in turn deposit 10 percent of the amount at KMC office.

Whereas, KMC spends around Rs 180 million per year for the city’s solid waste management.

Rimal said that the streets of Kathmandu would be divided in five categories and each would have separate rules for the residents. "According to the amount of solid waste they produce, each of the households and firms will have to contribute from Rs 30 to 1000 every month."

He said the people could have done a lot from local level too, to reduce the daily volume of trash by reusing or destroying the biodegradable materials.

He regretted that KMC has not been successful to draw people’s cooperation in minimizing the amount of garbage. "At least in the days when the whole metropolis is suffering from dumping site crisis, people should have been more cooperative."

On this recent decision, Prem Lal Maharjan, the Secretary General of Consumers’ Forum Nepal, said the forum would welcome this decision if KMC levies the fee based on the citizens’ capacity instead of imposing it harshly.

"KMC should have done this long ago. Now it seems that KMC alone cannot solve this bulging problem. Still, if KMC has determined to do it now, I think the citizens will not deny because this will ultimately be beneficial for themselves in long run," he said.

Meanwhile, the garbage of Kathmandu is being piled up in the collection centre at Teku for four days since the pile has not been taken to Guheshwori as usual due to the bird hazards which recently shaved up in the nearby Tribhuwan International Airport.

The hovering vultures and other birds have posed serious threat to the around 300 aircraft daily, taking off or landing in the airport in past two weeks averting some near-fatal disasters. In last fortnight, five planes have escaped major accidents.

KMC officials said the garbage has not been transported to Guheshori since Friday.

Secretary of Sanitation Sub-Committee Solid Waste Management and Resource Mobilisation Centre, Bishombhar Lal Pradhan said the government is committed to provide KMC with an immediate solution to manage the growing pile of garbage very soon.

In addition, he said the construction of road with garbage as filling material at Guheshwori stopped because of bird menace at the airport which has become a national problem.

"Some people indicated a link between the bird hazards in the airport and the filling of the garbage in Guheshwori. So stopped our work," he said.

However, Pradhan claimed that the road construction at Guheshwori is not only the reason behind the growth of bird activity in the airport. "We have been using garbage as filling material since last six months but the problems has suddenly come up."

He said the current season, river pollution, earthworms, growing residence area at Koteshwore were all to be blamed.

The garbage was being used as filling material for a local road construction at Guheshwori-Jorpati area for last six months.
[Kathmandu Tuesday October 17, 2000 Kartik 01, 2057.]

Wednesday, October 04, 2000

Valley might soon be listed as endangered heritage site

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Oct 3 - The recent visit of World Heritage Committee (WHC) officials left the indication that Kathmandu Valley would soon be in the list of endangered World Heritage Sites, conservation experts here said.

Keshab Raj Jha, the ex-ambassador to France and permanent delegate of Nepal to United Nation's Science, Education and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) said that the mission was not here, as it was considered, to negotiate but "only to console us before the real punch comes".

He said, "No matter what a handsome treatment the government and local officials offered to the delegates, only the announcement is awaited to be legalised".

Jha added,"I'm very much disappointed. WHC should not take such a step without Nepal's concordance or having applied to include the site in the list."

The visit of WHC officials was the result of Nepal's negligence toward conservation of the seven monument zones -- Swoyambhu, Pashupatinath, Bouddha, Changu Narayan and the historic palaces of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur -- which were enlisted as World Heritage Sites in 1979.

Right from 1993, WHC reminded Nepal of the deteriorating monuments. First, there was a 16-point notice and after five years, a joint mission of UNESCO handed Nepal another 55-point recommendation in 1998.

Since Nepal's performance was unsatisfactory, WHC decided last year to send this mission for soliciting a political commitment from the head of the state down to local mayors. It was understood that the mission's report in the coming session of WHC in Crains, Australia would determinate the fate of the Kathmandu Valley -- whether or not to put it on the infamous list of endangered monuments.

Presently, there are 27 properties included on the list of World Heritage in Danger, out of the total 630 monuments orldwide.

Chief Research Officer of Department of Archaeology (DoA) Chandra P Tripathi said nothing could be said before the formal announcement to be made in December. However, our representative will strongly protest such blemishing decision, if made, he said.

Still, he admitted that due to lack of coordination among the bodies concerned, the implementation of laws to protect ancient monuments was poor.

The mission remained tight-lipped during their five-day visit. Later, at a press meet last Thursday, the president of WHC Abdelaziz Touri appreciated the degree of awareness among the citizens but he warned Nepal of "serious loss of the authentic urban fabric" indicating rapid and haphazard urbanization which is against the norm of world heritage site.

In addition, they showed the benefits if Kathmandu would be included in the endangered list, arguing that it would open door to further technical assistance.

Kathmandu's Acting Mayor said that the delegates were here only for formality. He said, "Instead of demanding our commitment, they tried to convince us that they were not going to delist the Kathmandu Valley and being enrolled in the endangered list would draw assistance from the international concerned agencies."

He was specially annoyed that before receiving the delegates, the government bodies did not coordinate to present the whole country's voice to the mission.

Asking for anonymity, a DOA official said, "Some board members in WHC are trying to slap the endangered list on Nepal and make way for drawing international donations in the name of conservation to this third world country."

Till September 2000, a total of US dollars 240,374 has been provided as international assistance. Out of which US dollars 62,601 (26 percent) has been 'utilised' to undertake UNESCO expert missions to the Kathmandu Valley.

"This circumstance itself is an insult for the whole nation," said Cultural expert Satya Mohan Joshi. "We can't expect better future where the officials spend much of their time flying in foreign countries than taking the situation seriously."

Raju Rokka, the manager of Kathmadu Valley Preservation Trust, an INGO presently renovating ancient monuments, went to the extent of approving the WHC's probable step. He said, "The site should be kept in the endangered list for several years so as to teach the government officials a lesson."

On the other hand, Architect Dr Sudarshan Raj Tiwari said that WHC would not place Kathmandu Valley on the list before 2004. "They might include it but not immediately," he said.
[Kathmandu Wednesday October 04, 2000 Aswin 18 2057.]

Thursday, September 28, 2000

Heritage conservation in IT age

[POST PLATFORM]
By Razen Manandhar

We must be lucky that our great,great grandfathers have built so many monuments for us. They constructed giant temples like Pashupatinath, Changu Narayan, Boudha, Swayambhu so that the people would pray for the country's prosperity. And the rulers of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur were also so benevolent that they had their palaces built amid the common people's residences and made them full of temples so that people might tread over the palace premise every day..."

These are the common speeches intelligent people love to deliver now and then. They never miss talking about the bird called heritage conservation when they see some white skinned audience, probably from World Heritage Committee or UNESCO itself.

We have become very conscious about this topic, at least in front of the foreigners - because UNESCO believes they are valuable for the world. To please them, we have to work as if we have a room in our heart for the monuments we have acquired from our ancestors. And optimistic foreigners clap their hands (They will never know how easy it is to draw donations in the name of heritage conservation).

Next reason to conserve the cultural heritage: A big part of national income is backed by the tourism industry. It is easy to promote this industry because you have to invest nothing for raw materials. Your grandfather planted a tree three hundred years ago and now you are the legitimate heir - you don't have to love the tree to pluck fruits. Let's conserve the temples for the tourism industry's sake.

Driven by these two major incentives, we have determined to conserve our cultural heritage. But the bitter side of the truth is that it is not as easy a job in this IT age.

The world has changed. Today our mind has "memory space" only for cement constructions, roller shutters, air-conditions, Toyotas, leather jackets, hamburgers and computers. But we have to pretend as if we really care for heritage conservation. How?

No worry, we have secret techniques of conserving UNESCO's heritage in this modern world. This would satisfy the annoyed UNESCO team as well as other white skinned heritage lovers.

We are doing all this for the foreigners' sake, so we don't have to worry about genuineness. They can find no wrong in the way we "conserve" the monuments in decorating style. Indeed, we are clever enough to dupe the westerners.

The international experts demand use of indigenous materials and art in renovation of the heritage sites and surrounding buildings. We cant' do this but there are lots of things that can be done. Here are some common tricks: Erect concrete pillars or walls, wrap them with brick-shaped tiles and cover the joining with mud. Instead of genuine wood carvings, stick machine cut pieces of wood. Use iron beams or pillars and cover them with wood pieces. You can paint copper roofs with enamel. Allow buildings can be built over water spouts and the spouts can be made to drip from water tanks. Build a fake temple over the underground-like place where the gods reside.

Let Tibetans build giant structures in the name of preserving the jungle. Don't renovate a courtyard for decades, lock it instead. Everything is okay if you can satisfy the demon called the High Level Mission of World Heritage Centre.

But above all, the best way to please them must be to throw a handsome party somewhere in a starry hotel.
[Kathmandu Thursday September 28, 2000 Aswin 12, 2057.]
http://www.nepalnews.com.np/contents/englishdaily/ktmpost/2000/sep/sep28/editorial.htm#3

Saturday, September 23, 2000

TU decree stirs job panic among teachers

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Sept 22 - The "stern" decision of Tribhuvan University (TU) to prevent teachers from working outside has created havoc among over 3,000 teachers working in the government supported oldest university of Nepal.

Last week, TU Conference and Executive Council issued a circular to its campuses, calling all the teachers to take more classes and asked them to refrain from teaching or holding administrative posts in other institutions.

With the new decision, any teacher taking classes in other shifts than their regular work time in private colleges or schools need to get permission. All the teachers working outside are demanded to produce the proof of their resignation from other institutions. It is also mentioned that TU campuses will also be taken action, if they fail to inform the TU administration about the status of their teachers.

TU Rector Prof Dr Premraj Pant said the decision was the need of the time. He said, "Everybody knows, we made the decision to enforce law and to create a better academic environment."

A TU official requesting anonymity said that among 6,200 teachers, over 80 percent are involved in outside jobs. He said, "Those teaches earn money and goodwill from TU and at the same time, they sell the fame to promote private institutes. Many have their own campuses."

The TU salary was increased around 50 percent last July. TU officials stress that given the significant hike in the salary, the teachers should also be honest and loyal to their profession.

However, TU has so far no record of the number of teachers engaged in other full-time professions.

Assistant Professor Ghataraj Bhattarai, who has been teaching in Ratna Rajya Campus and also running Pashupati Campus, is one among the victims. He said the decision has affected over 3,000 teachers and created havoc among them. The owners of private campuses also had a two-day meeting last Sunday and Monday.

He said the decision lacks homework, and is only a result of revenge. "TU's present resource and capacity cannot control this situation. Even the government does not know what its staff do in the mornings and evenings."

Bhattarai easily said that he would go for the private campus if the need be. He said, "If teachers like me with 32 years of experience have to leave, it is certain that TU would be deserted by competent teachers and only learners will be there to teach."

Educationist Dr Ballav Mani Dahal said that the rules themselves are not bad. "But, TU should have strengthened its position before imposing such a decision. They should also be providing the teachers with certain time before implementing the decision."

"The decision makers should be ensured of their resources to make the teachers devote themselves for TU's development," he added.

Dr Mohan Himanshu Thapa, who taught in TU for 40 years, said the decision as such is not bad but would be a difficult task to implement.

On the other hand, the decision has also affected the administrative staff too. TU Employees' Association Chairman Bhola Prasad Dhakal claimed that the decision has cut facilities of the staff.

He added the new change has neglected the administrative staff. "We are discriminated against. We are not allowed to compete for parallel promotion as the teachers claim for."
[Kathmandu Saturday September 23, 2000 Aswin 07 2057.]

TU decree stirs job panic among teachers

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Sept 22 - The "stern" decision of Tribhuvan University (TU) to prevent teachers from working outside has created havoc among over 3,000 teachers working in the government supported oldest university of Nepal.

Last week, TU Conference and Executive Council issued a circular to its campuses, calling all the teachers to take more classes and asked them to refrain from teaching or holding administrative posts in other institutions.

With the new decision, any teacher taking classes in other shifts than their regular work time in private colleges or schools need to get permission. All the teachers working outside are demanded to produce the proof of their resignation from other institutions. It is also mentioned that TU campuses will also be taken action, if they fail to inform the TU administration about the status of their teachers.

TU Rector Prof Dr Premraj Pant said the decision was the need of the time. He said, "Everybody knows, we made the decision to enforce law and to create a better academic environment."

A TU official requesting anonymity said that among 6,200 teachers, over 80 percent are involved in outside jobs. He said, "Those teaches earn money and goodwill from TU and at the same time, they sell the fame to promote private institutes. Many have their own campuses."

The TU salary was increased around 50 percent last July. TU officials stress that given the significant hike in the salary, the teachers should also be honest and loyal to their profession.

However, TU has so far no record of the number of teachers engaged in other full-time professions.

Assistant Professor Ghataraj Bhattarai, who has been teaching in Ratna Rajya Campus and also running Pashupati Campus, is one among the victims. He said the decision has affected over 3,000 teachers and created havoc among them. The owners of private campuses also had a two-day meeting last Sunday and Monday.

He said the decision lacks homework, and is only a result of revenge. "TU's present resource and capacity cannot control this situation. Even the government does not know what its staff do in the mornings and evenings."

Bhattarai easily said that he would go for the private campus if the need be. He said, "If teachers like me with 32 years of experience have to leave, it is certain that TU would be deserted by competent teachers and only learners will be there to teach."

Educationist Dr Ballav Mani Dahal said that the rules themselves are not bad. "But, TU should have strengthened its position before imposing such a decision. They should also be providing the teachers with certain time before implementing the decision."

"The decision makers should be ensured of their resources to make the teachers devote themselves for TU's development," he added.

Dr Mohan Himanshu Thapa, who taught in TU for 40 years, said the decision as such is not bad but would be a difficult task to implement.

On the other hand, the decision has also affected the administrative staff too. TU Employees' Association Chairman Bhola Prasad Dhakal claimed that the decision has cut facilities of the staff.

He added the new change has neglected the administrative staff. "We are discriminated against. We are not allowed to compete for parallel promotion as the teachers claim for."
[Kathmandu Saturday September 23, 2000 Aswin 07 2057.]

Sunday, September 10, 2000

Business complex to be erected in Sundhara

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Sept 9 - Employees Provident Fund Office (EPFO) and Ward No 22 of Kathmandu Metropolitan City have recently reached a verbal understanding to provide Rs 1.6 million to a renovation committee to start building business complex just behind the capital's famous Sundhara spout.

The construction works had been stalled for 14 years following a squabble with the locals who blamed that drying of the spout was due to the construction works. The amount to be received from EPFO will be used in renovation of the stone spout, according to Ward chairman Hari Krishna Dangol.

Dangol said Friday that he would help EPFO to have the house map approved to build its complex today after the latter had agreed to pay the sum they needed to renovate the spout that has been lying useless for over a decade. "EPFO will start building its complex there very soon," he said. A renovation committee has already been formed, of which, Ward Chairman Dangol is the coordinator.

The locals stopped EPFO's building project in 1986 as the water spout started drying as soon as the digging began behind the spout. They claimed that the digging tampered the water source for the over 150 years old spout.

Engineer Saroj Basnet of WeLink Consultants said that it would start the renovation works either by finding out its real source, or by constructing wells in nearby Tebahal area or by deep-boring for the ground water. "We have produced the preliminary report. However, If we have to go for deep boring, the amount would be insufficient," he said.

The search for the water source is to start after six weeks, when EPFO will complete demolishing the existing building there.

Whereas, the locals are not happy with the proposed scheme. Srikrishna Darshandhari, a local, said Ward Office should help EPFO to have the map approved only after the problem of Sundhara is totally solved. He asked, "Who will take the responsibility if EPFO constructed the building but Sundhara remained dry?"

He said that such serious steps should have been taken only after a thorough discussion with the locals.

He also opposed pumping out underground water, saying it would destroy the historic value of Sundhara and also waste the ground water too. "Deep boring will damage the valley's geological feature and the volume of water from deep-boring will create a problem for its outlet," he said.

On the other hand, EPFO officials maintained that the drying of the spout had no relation with the building of the complex. "Still, we agreed to grant Rs 1.6 million as per the demand of the Ward Office and we also wanted to help restore the national monument," said Shashi Bikram Rana, the Department Chief of EPFO.

However, officials at the Department of Archaeology-- which takes care of the all the historic monuments of the country-- said that they had no information about the Ward Office's steps.
[Kathmandu Sunday September 10, 2000 Bhadra 25, 2057.]

Friday, September 08, 2000

1/3 houses in KMC illegal

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Sept 7 - One third of the total mushrooming buildings in the capital city are illegal as they are not approved by the municipality. Kathmandu Municipal Corporation (KMC) claims that even among the two third of the buildings under-construction that have acquired formal approval, many have not followed the exact blue print they have registered with the office.

According to Devendra Dangol, a senior municipal engineer, only about 3100 applications have registered planned map in his office, whereas once third of that number start construction without bothering to follow any official procedure.

Even the houses with proper authorization do not care to amend their maps if they wish to add a room or two here or there. The officials add that a few daring ones even add a storey or two more than stipulated in their original maps.

"Majority of the houses built in the city are in contrary to the blue prints they produce to acquire permission for the building from the metropolis office," claims Ganesh Dhoj GC, legal officer in Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC).

GC considers the trend as a negligence fuelled due to lack of stern action against the defaulters. However, despite being aware of illegal constructions, KMC’s hands are legally bound. They can do nothing until any affected party lodges a complain. Though the number of such complains are meagre, "the complains on unauthorised construction occupy over 75 percent of all sorts of complains together," he added.

KMC’s actions are always prompted by the complains made by defaulters’ neighbours. However, the legal procedure is so clumsy and time consuming that any building or structure completes by the time even when a decree to halt the construction is issued.

KMC’s office has now stacks of such default cases which are either not pursued or not solved. There are cases since the last one decade languishing in old files of the office. Not only KMC, Kathmandu Valley Town Development Implementation Committee (KVTDIC) also has the authority to drag the wrongdoers to the court, halt construction works and even demolish illegal structures. The similar rights to two different organizations is also making the issue "everybody’s responsibility" and being neglected in many cases by the both parties.

"Unless the contradictory acts are amended or a coordination method is developed, we can’t completely change this ugly cityscape." says Suresh P Acharya, town controller of KVTDIC. Coordinator of Kathmandu Valley Mapping Programme Padma Sundar Joshi said the problem lies in the policy. "Instead of dividing the valley into more sectors and thus dividing authorities, the whole valley should be united and the government should devise a grand plan for better housing policies," he said.

However, there is a light in the tunnel. Days are coming when buildings will be made only under a widely planned ‘Building Codes’. Deputy Director General of Urban Development and Building Works Purna Kadariya said discussion with Ministry for Law to implement the ‘Building Codes’ developed in 1994 under UNDP’s assistance is about to complete. "Regulating the urban housing is a long process and it needs different components like electricity, drinking water, drainage telephone etc. Now, building code is being implemented shortly which will regulate the buildings at affordable expense," he says.
[Kathmandu Friday September 08, 2000 Bhadra 23, 2057.]

Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Gulam Ali to steal many hearts in capital


By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Aug 29 - After spell-binding Nepali music lovers with his evergreen numbers like Gajalu tee thula thula ankhha, Gulam Ali, the legendary ghazal singer is back in the capital to steal the audiences’ hearts once again.

The veteran Pakistani singer Ali appreciated Almighty God Tuesday for bestowing him an opportunity to come amidst Nepali audience again with Nepali numbers after a gap of 15 years.

The famous singer of ghazals who made a revolutionary craze for ghazals among Nepali audience in 1985, is here in Kathmandu for his live concert and recording of a new album with all new Nepali songs.

In a simple and yet erudite voice, he paid homage to God whom he believes the most, for having "an opportunity" to visit Nepal. "I really thank God that I am here. I know, nothing happens without God’s will."

Audience’s response was the most important gift for Gulam Ali during his first visit. He still remembers the response Nepali audience gave him fifteen years ago. He recalled, "In my first visit, the audience gave me that much of response and love that I have not forgotten yet. And I’m not going to forget it till end (of my life)"

The 59-year-old maestro’s songs have gained fame all over the world but he is thrilled that the Bengali, Afghani and Nepali audience can "give their life" for classical music.

He is aware of the encroachment of Western music in and around the Indian subcontinent but this threat of pop songs cannot flicker his morale. He said,"Pop songs are like storms. It comes and fades and what remains is just eternal."

Gulam Ali came across ghazal singing in his childhood, when his father Daulat Ali Khan took him to different music maestros. Bade Gulam Ali Khan and Barkat Ali Khan were some of his teachers whom he esteems even today.

"I love ghazals because it is always full of sublime words. One can experience beauty of words, expressed through sonorous voice -- when the meaning of words and feeling of voice comes together, they are bound to hypnotize the audience." he explained.

After giving four peerless songs written by MBB Shah during his previous visit, Gulam Ali has recorded eight new songs written and composed by Nepali younger artistes. Digital Symphonic Recording is releasing his new album Sambandh soon. "These songs will be my gift for Nepalis,"
he said.

He will perform two live concerts, one in Radisson Hotel and another in Royal Nepal Academy on 31 August and 3 September respectively.

Earlier, according to the organizers, Their Majesties had graced his special concert at the Royal Palace last Friday.

Gulam Ali, who is also a decent tabla player, has so far recorded around 5,000 songs. Still, he does not believe that he has hit the perfection. "I am continuing my journey. An artiste never finds his journey complete. It is just like journey into the sea - the deeper you go the more water you will find," he said.

These days, he spends "normal and easy" life in the Pakistani city of Lahore.
[Kathmandu Wednesday August 30, 2000 Bhadra 14, 2057.]

Thursday, August 17, 2000

How a 'gem' of Gaijatra faded in modernity...

By Razen Manandhar
KATHMANDU, Aug 16 - Blame it on democracy or the media revolution, Gaijatra has lost a major charm khyalaa, street comics and satires.

As in the last few years, those who lost their parents a year earlier took out religious processions today, without any schedule for khyalaas in different nooks and corners of the capital cities. Whereas earlier khyalaas used to be performed even about a week after the Gaijatra day.

Until as late as mid' 80s, the street comics were an integral part of Gaijatra festival. The satirists and other artistes used to take part in the routine 'cow carnival' with instruments, and perform at crossroads for the surrounding audience.

In such comics, the actors played the roles of ministers, lawyers, doctors, farmers and other dignitaries of the society. Each actor represented one particular community and they shed shower of satires and humour in common people's language.

"Those were the days when locals used to compete with each other to attract our performance to their courtyards," says Prem Bahadur Tamrakar, 57, who wrote and directed such street comics in his young days.

Tamrakar, one of the founders of a Gaijatra troupe Khyalaa Khalaa in 1959, said, "We could even play the King's role. No matter how strict the censorship was, we used to experience the complete freedom of expression at least on the day of Gaijatra."

The tradition of street comic, the khyalaa, is deep rooted in Nepali culture. Dr Chunda Bajracharya explaining the history of khyalaa said, it began in the seventeenth century by King Srinivas Malla of Patan when he added "Bathaa" episode in the Kartik Dance.

Dr Bajracharya said that when King Pratap Malla (1641-1674) started the cow festival, it was a means of entertainment assimilated with social satires. "Religious aspect might have been added later after developing the myth of Yamaraj and the gate to the Heaven," she said.

The tradition of cow carnival and street comics flourished side by side. The aboriginal Kathmanduites, Newar farmers were much active in such performances. The period of the year was a free and leisurely period for them.

A social organisation, Munasa tried to convert such comics into stage dramas in the years 1972-79 and held yearly competitions before it collapsed due to political restrictions. Nabin Chitrakar, a founder of Munasaa, proudly recounts that there were over 80 such troupes taking part in the khyalaa competitions.

On disappearance of such street comics, litterateur-turned-politician Padma Ratna Tuladhar says, "It is unfortunate that the changing time has virtually confined Gaijatra merely into a ritual these days."

In the autocratic Panchayati period Gaijatra and the khyalaa were the only means for the public to voice their dissatisfaction against the government. "Now the freedom of speech and other means of expression have diverted public interest from such traditional beauties," he added.

Former lawmaker Tuladhar is one among the celebrated comic writers in Nepalbhasa literature, who started writing comics in early 1970s.

Ramesh Kaji Sthapit, one of the comic director takes the change as a step of evolution if not really development. He says organising street comics in present context is not practical. "Life has become too busy, neither actors nor audience have time for street entertainment."

Critic Dr Mohan Himanshu Thapa says nobody has to wait for Gaijatra to kick satire against the government now. So the impact of khyalaa is fading out. He blames foreign TV channels for deviating people's attention from indigenous genre of humour and satire. "People must fight against such cultural encroachment unitedly and preserve the rich tradition," he stressed.

[Kathmandu Thursday August 17, 2000 Bhadra 01, 2057.]

Friday, August 11, 2000

Swoyambhu facelift not according to masterplan

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Aug 10 - It was once dreamt that the hill of Swoyambhunath with its stupa established over 1500 years ago would be restored to its full traditional glory by the year 2000. But the action taken so far in and around the monument site is far from the actual plan.

Unplanned and ugly constructions are taking place almost unabashed in contrast to the vision of the Swoyambhunath Conservation Masterplan (Swoyambhu 2000), recognised by the Ministry of Culture in 1989. The masterplan was prepared by Neils Gutschow and Gotz Hagmuller with Ramesh Jung Thapa and Saphalya Amatya.

The Swayambu, believed to be self-emerged and later developed into a proper stupa by King Vrishavadev in the 4th century AD, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) since 1979.

Under Secretary of Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Dr Saphalya Amatya, involved in designing the masterplan, regrets that it was not being followed. "Everybody knows the masterplan's guidelines are being ignored, it is pathetic," he says.

However, Department of Archaeology (DoA), the government authority responsible for implementing the masterplan has hardly done anything. Director General of DoA Riddi Pradhan is apathetic towards her responsibility. "We don't appreciate any construction done without DoA's approval," she said.

The masterplan suggests to restrict any new constructions, and ensures retaining of the traditional character of the hill. It accepts the existing traditional structures of Theravada and Lamaistic institutions but proposes strict control of any so-called Mane-Gumbas.

Despite the masterplan's proposal to demolish around two dozen ugly new buildings in and around the monument zone, none have been demolished. Instead, a number of new residential houses, Mane-gumbas are being constructed along with serious encroachment of public land.

Ironically, the huge concrete walls being constructed around Swoyambhu hill, which is being proclaimed as a new attraction, is completely against the spirit of the masterplan. The wall is conceptualized in the masterplan, but much traditional looking and modest. The case is similar for big Buddha statue being constructed on the western foot hill.

Bujung Gurung of Manang District Khangsar Society, supervising the construction of the Buddha statue refutes that such a work could be illegal.

On this, DoA Research Officer Bhim Nepal says DoA did not approve the statue. "We had approved the use of land only for a green park but not for big statue construction," he said.

Architect and Historian Sudarshan Raj Tiwari is also against the construction of such a huge wall. He laments that in recent days DoA has become timid in implementing proper norms.

On the other hand, the chairman of Federation of Swoyambhu Management and Conservation Ratna Bahadur Bajracharya claims that all the new construction are adding beauty to the shrine. He even accepts use of cement, which is prohibited by law, as timely requirement. "We cannot always follow the old masterplan. We need timely changes."

As the monument is a world heritage site, an office of UNESCO in Kathmandu supervises it, and reports to the World Heritage Centre, Paris. A Technical Mission of UNESCO formulated 55 recommendations in March 1998, which had stated that "the scale and style of new development within the monument zone will be strictly controlled in accordance with the existing by-laws in order to protect the setting of Swoyambhu hill."

Now, like any other six world cultural heritage sites of the country, Swoyambhu is under the threat of being delisted from the prestigious list. UNESCO officials say that a High Level Delegation is coming to Nepal in September to discuss with government officials about the conservation situation. The delegation is expected to play major role about the fate of seven cultural heritages of the Kathmandu valley.

Monday, July 17, 2000

Gongabu Bus Park is still on the first gear

By Razen Manandhar
KATHMANDU, July 16 - The construction work at Gongabu Bus Park is yet to begin, a month after its much hyped handover by Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) to Lhotse Multipurpose Pvt Ltd (LM).

On May 15, KMC had handed over the 161-ropani (82,000 sq km) Gongabu park, at north-west of Kathmandu to a newly formed private company LM for 45 years. According to the terms of the KMC-LM agreement, the bus park will be developed into a well-managed bus terminal with modern facilities added to the existing facility.

The immediate need is to build 26 tellers, clean the shrubs, repair lightings and provide passengers with up-to-date information on the arrival and departure of buses.

Now, about 150 buses use the ill-maintained bus park and over 15,000 passengers visit it each day.

"It's time LM showed some evident construction works at the park," says KMC Under Secretary Surya Silwal on Friday. He argued that one month is long enough to start the construction and sort out the past mismanagement.

LM signed an agreement with KMC to develop the bus park area into a modern complex within five years at a cost of Rs 327 million. There will be a petrol pump, workshop, garage, supermarket, hotel, additional parking space, first-aid centre, restaurants, and a green park within the bus terminal.

"We have a dream," says Gehendra Bahadur Karki, the chairman of ML . "We will make this bus park a model for the whole country." LM is to pay an annual Rs 5.1 million in lease to KMC which will then increase every year. As the first instalment, KMC has received revenue of Rs 1.7 million from LM.

The park was set by the Japanese government at a cost of Rs 260 million in 1994 and handed over to Nepal. The ownership was eventually transferred to KMC which additionally spent Rs 33.7 million to expand it. Before the handover, the Japanese Embassy objected to KMC's plan to transfer it into a private company. It wrote a letter to the Finance Secretary on April 10, asking it to intervene. In response, Ministry of Local Development (MLD) urged KMC to stop the handover, quoting a Japan-Nepal agreement which requires the two sides to agree in case of reconstruction. The Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is currently probing the case.

Kathmandu Mayor Keshab Sthapit urges that despite such "minor problems which are common in Nepal", construction of the bus park will go ahead. He said KMC has spent around Rs 4 million every year in maintaining the bus park. "The private party now is giving us 5.1 million. That means, in all KMC will gain Rs 9.1 million every year," he says.

Kathmandu's Deputy Mayor Bidur Mainali himself is not fully convinced, however. "I am not against privatisation. But the procedure must be transparent."

But Under Secretary Silwal claims that every step of KMC is transparent and regular. An MLD official said that the Ministry is not satisfied with the way the Mayor has moved ahead with the transfer. "He has neglected legal aspects," he says.
[Kathmandu Monday July 17, 2000 Sharawan 02, 2057.]

Gongabu Bus Park is still on the first gear

By Razen Manandhar
KATHMANDU, July 16 - The construction work at Gongabu Bus Park is yet to begin, a month after its much hyped handover by Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) to Lhotse Multipurpose Pvt Ltd (LM).

On May 15, KMC had handed over the 161-ropani (82,000 sq km) Gongabu park, at north-west of Kathmandu to a newly formed private company LM for 45 years. According to the terms of the KMC-LM agreement, the bus park will be developed into a well-managed bus terminal with modern facilities added to the existing facility.

The immediate need is to build 26 tellers, clean the shrubs, repair lightings and provide passengers with up-to-date information on the arrival and departure of buses.

Now, about 150 buses use the ill-maintained bus park and over 15,000 passengers visit it each day.

"It's time LM showed some evident construction works at the park," says KMC Under Secretary Surya Silwal on Friday. He argued that one month is long enough to start the construction and sort out the past mismanagement.

LM signed an agreement with KMC to develop the bus park area into a modern complex within five years at a cost of Rs 327 million. There will be a petrol pump, workshop, garage, supermarket, hotel, additional parking space, first-aid centre, restaurants, and a green park within the bus terminal.

"We have a dream," says Gehendra Bahadur Karki, the chairman of ML . "We will make this bus park a model for the whole country." LM is to pay an annual Rs 5.1 million in lease to KMC which will then increase every year. As the first instalment, KMC has received revenue of Rs 1.7 million from LM.

The park was set by the Japanese government at a cost of Rs 260 million in 1994 and handed over to Nepal. The ownership was eventually transferred to KMC which additionally spent Rs 33.7 million to expand it. Before the handover, the Japanese Embassy objected to KMC's plan to transfer it into a private company. It wrote a letter to the Finance Secretary on April 10, asking it to intervene. In response, Ministry of Local Development (MLD) urged KMC to stop the handover, quoting a Japan-Nepal agreement which requires the two sides to agree in case of reconstruction. The Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is currently probing the case.

Kathmandu Mayor Keshab Sthapit urges that despite such "minor problems which are common in Nepal", construction of the bus park will go ahead. He said KMC has spent around Rs 4 million every year in maintaining the bus park. "The private party now is giving us 5.1 million. That means, in all KMC will gain Rs 9.1 million every year," he says.

Kathmandu's Deputy Mayor Bidur Mainali himself is not fully convinced, however. "I am not against privatisation. But the procedure must be transparent."

But Under Secretary Silwal claims that every step of KMC is transparent and regular. An MLD official said that the Ministry is not satisfied with the way the Mayor has moved ahead with the transfer. "He has neglected legal aspects," he says.
[Kathmandu Monday July 17, 2000 Sharawan 02, 2057.]

Sunday, June 18, 2000

Esperanto: A different language

Razen Manandhar
Esperanto. It’s the language of love, shareing and respecting one another’s identity. Basically, language is the strongest tie that binds two hearts, communities and even countries. And love is what keeps the world rolling.

According to Judeo-Christian mythology, the descendants of Noah settled in a city after the Great Flood and they challenged God’s authority by deciding to build a tower ‘Babel’ that would reach heaven. God then divided the people into different groups speaking different languages. Since the people could not understand one another, their plan to outwit God went down the drain.

There is one language ‘Esperanto”, which is beyond colonialism and linguistic slavery, through which people can communicate. Esperanto is ‘constructed’ and is designed to be used as a second language by people belonging to any community for inter-personal, inter-communal or international purposes. It was never conceived to eliminate the existing languages. Instead, it respects mother languages of all communities.

Origin
An optician, Dr Lazaro Ludoviko Zamenhof, who had some knowledge of Linguistics, created the language almost accidentally in 1887. He was born in Bjalistok, a province of the Russian Empire (now it lies in Poland). The people living there spoke different languages and it was one major cause of their conflicts and differences. Each community felt its language to be superior to that of others and refused to use other languages.

The adolescent boy set out to solve this problem. He started to create a language, using some three dozen Indo-European languages he knew. It finally took years to emerge as a language. It is still with us today, a miraculous gift to the world.

When Dr. Zemenhof published his First Book (an introduction to the international language in Russian), he used the pseudo name as Dr Esperanto( the optimist).Eventually the language came to be known by that name.

Unlike other languages, it is a neutral language. It does not belong to any country, political party, community or religion. So everyone is free to adopt it and it is very easy to learn. You can learn in a month or so. The whole language can be summarized into 16 basic rules.

History

After the release of his First Book, Dr. Zamenhof started promoting the languag. Within two years, a thousand Esperantists (users of the language) were registered. La Esperantisto was the first Esperanto magazine. In 1905, the first Esperanto Congress in Boulogne-sur-Maer. International correspondence, visits, get-togethers gradually breached barriers. However during the world wars, Esperanto had to face some unavoidable problems. But the language has spread through the world.

Political support perhaps contributes a lot to a language’s prosperity. The century-long history of Esperanto has seen both cheerful and bleak days. No government has officially adopted Esperanto but many have encouraged. Least European countries, Vietnam and China have even supported Esperanto financially. On the other hand, both the Tsars' and Stalin’s Russian did not encourage Esperanto. Many Central European countries outlawed it. Hitler considered it as a tool of Jewish domination and Japan though it to be the Communists’ language. China has encouraged Esperanto of official but not for personal use. Ceausescu in Romania banned Esperanto books. A few years ago, an Esperanto teacher was deported from Iraq.

Today

Organizations for the development of Esperanto are on the increase. There are about 100 major associations in various countries, over 80 international clubs devoted to various concerns. Like art, teaching, economy, environment etc. There are radio programmes and libraries for those who need them.

Hundreds of books and magazines are published every year. Most of the World Classics have been translated and original works, dictionaries in Esperanto are on the rise. According to the British Esperanto Association, several tens of thousands of books have been published in Esperanto. There are about 100 periodicals, plus countless local bulletins and newsletters. At one point, there was even a daily newspaper in Esperanto.

The Universal Esperanto Association (UEA, established in 1908) is the Central Office of Esperanto associations in the world. It lies in Netherlands and has 19,169 members from 119 countries (membership fee is quite high). It is in official relations with UN and UNESCO. Every year, it conducts a worldwide congress in which thousands of participants from over a hundred countries meet, discuss and interact as friends wtihout having to use any rich, powerful or influential country’s language. In 1998, the 83rd Universal Congress (UK) in Montpellier, France hosted 3,133 delegates worldwide. Kofi Annan sent an encouraging message to 84th UK. In 2000 July, the 85th UK will be held in Tell Aviv, Israel. Around the same time, the youth section of UEA will conduct the Youth Congress in Hong Kong.

Correspondence, tourism, education, business and bilateral cooperation are Esperanto’s main fields. But using it for getting a life partner, employment or alms from richer countries is considered a great misuse.

Esperanto in Nepal

Esperanto came to Nepal in 1956 when Tibor Sekelj introduced it to some one hundreds students. Its learners then formed the Esperanto-Societo de Katmandu. It later dissolved, but in 1990, Joachim Werden came and taught the language to some 200 enthusiastic learners. Then Nepala Esperanto-Asocio was formed. An Esperanto tourist event tales place here every other year. Volunteers of Esperanto-Domo commenced a correspondence course but it soon stopped. A Nepali-Esperanto dictionary is in the process of compilation. Many people neglect Esperanto because it does not offer prompt opportunities and some Nepali Esperantists now seem more interested in travelling abroad than actually learning, using or teaching it.
[2000-06-18, The Sunday Post]

Friday, April 21, 2000

Let’s go to Kathmandu

By Razen
Those were the days, when people used to dream that they would at least once in lifetime tread over the pious valley called “Nepal”. They knew there are the temples of Lord Pashupatinath, Guheshwari, Dakshinkali and Budhanilkantha. The gigantic stupas of Swayambhunath and Boudhanath are also there. And, how can one visit and do not take a holy dip in the sacred river of Bagmati?

A lot of water has flown under the bridge since then. Along the changing time, the purpose of visiting Kathmandu has also changed. Now, the educated, intelligent and up-to-date people of Nepal do not have time to think about those outmoded constructions that can give you no jagir, no promotion. Then? Is it that the importance of Kathmandu is withering out? Absolutely not. There are many more reasons for visiting Kathmandu than thronging around the temple of Pashupatinath for a pint of chandan.

Last week, CPN-UML organized an unprecedented programme – ‘Let’s go to Kathmandu”. First, I was shocked why the always-on-fire party is promoting domestic tourism. After a single call from their revered leaders, tens of thousands of people came here. It was just like an avalanche, an ocean or Siberian grassland. I was happy that this old city still retained the charm of Manisha Koirala, which could attract that bold extravaganza at a wink.

All of a sudden, I saw uncountable mass of political activities moving to and fro, countless buses being parked around Ring Road and the streets were more reddish (with sittings of paan) than usual. The population of the capital is ever soaring but it had not tickled my eyes as it did on that day. Actually my eyes were here with a great mission.

They stated there for a couple of days – doing nothing. I thought didn’t they have anything to do – for example, agriculture, factory, business, government services, etc – in their hometowns? Anyway, mouth-watering dishes were waiting for them without having to toil their fingers like in the village. Bottles of imported whiskey and local specialities like buff momo (a rare thing for their villages) had added to the charm. Where else could they enjoy Kantipur FM and shake their hips? Enjoy yourself as much as you can for time and tide waits for nobody.

I thought that this event would certainly boost tourism industry of Kathmandu. They would stay in five-star hotels, eat in executive restaurants and buy some souvenirs from this city of artists. But you see, they had neither money, neither time, nor interest to do anything more than they were supposed to perform. Still, I heard that some tried to meet the lawmakers of their constituency and told hal-khabar of their villages.

On the Judgement Day, all the people were taken to Khulla Manch – the ground that welcomes all, regardless of their parties, qualifications and intentions. The flocks were happy because they saw their sansad leaders for the first time after the election campaign, almost a year ago.

And when the leader saw that the ground was fully occupied, he raised his hand. I was curious what would be his next step. Oh! He then declared that all the leaders, except those belonging to his party, were corrupt.

It was a good idea. Collect some thousands of pseudo-supporters on hire and declare what is the most uncommon. Here goes a Hindi saying – jiski lathi uski bhains (the buffalo belongs to him who possesses a baton).
[2000-04-21, Post Platform]

Wednesday, April 05, 2000

My house beneath Bagmati bridge

By Manandhar
I swear, I belong to a family that is more indigenous than the indigenous people. My forgather came here long before the Bagmati river started to find her way from Baghdwar. Can you imagine this? I know you can’t.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a legendary lake by the southern slope of the Himalayas. One day, Lord Manjusree of China came over that lake and sent all the water away. When he ventured on this heroic deed, my forefather was his personal secretary. By the grace of Lord Manjusree , our family has been living in the same place where our new building lies. Some other true residents also followed that great idea and settled in the fertile land permanently.

It was only after hundreds of years of our arrival that a river called Bagmati flowed by our land. The river was so naughty that it flowed just beside our parental property. “Poor river,” we though and pardoned her waywardness. We asked her many times to change route but she was stubborn and turned a deaf ear. We didn’t mind it for she looked ‘chwank’ in those days. Then we slept Rip-Van-Wrinkle’s sleep for thousands of years.

We didn’t know how easily time passed. One after another, dynasties came over here to rule and proved themselves good. Then the Ranas came and again “Kangresi’ Democracy followed. What next? The original Pranchayati Democracy followed. We were still sleeping. Yet, we were not unconscious and had at least some idea that weird things were taking place now and then, here and there. Even in those periods, some of our comrades tried to ‘reclaim’ their lawful property. It was not as easy as now. Some crossed the border and some failed.

Then came the ‘topple-or-be-toppled’ Democracy. Hooray! This was the golden chance to occupy the land that our forefathers left for us some thousand years ago. Since all the prime ministers and ministers can’t see other things in this great country beside that hypnotic chair in Singha Durbar, we were free to claim the land of our choice.

But it was not so easy. Some low level officers objected when we tried to build a house on our land. No problem. This is democracy. Money is the only thing we have left to call our culture. A handful of money can hush them for sure. It is a matter of joy for us that this Kathmandu has become the centre of commotion for the whole country. And the environment is so romantic that you can claim any land in this lustrous city provided you know some officials personally. Let’s first build a house and then think whether people will believe in its legitimacy. What if the Bagmati bridge stretches farther than our land. As I have said before, we have been here ever before Bagmati herself, let us leave that bridge alone.

So long as the government falls upon the hands of those who never care whether the Bagmati came first or we did, more and more houses will be built along the ever-narrowing banks of the poor Bagmati. Some day, one will have guts enough to build [ a mansion] just under the bridge and even pull down the bridge itself. Just watch. And if you really have power or money in your pocket, join us. It’s far lucrative than crying out of stopping the pollution in the river.
[2000-04-05, The Kathmandu Post, Post Platform]

Friday, March 31, 2000

Sundari Chowk with marvelous water spout

[HERITAGE TOUR]
By Razen Manandhar

In the history of the Kathmandu Valley, the middle of the seventeenth century is particularly remembered for this is the apex of the awesome Malla dynasty architecture. All the kings of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, spent more time in decirating their palaces and surroundings than paying due attention to safeguard their states from foreign invaders. One among the masterpieces of the period is Sundari Chowk of Patan Durbar Square.

The 355 year old courtyard, with one type of art or another in every inch of its walls, windows, door, roofs of buildings as well as the floor with the water spout on its centre, can be the model of the height of Malla period art and architecture. The credit of this courtyard goes to two art-loving and religious kings of Patan — Siddhi Narasimha Malla and his son Sri Nivas Malla.

Though Patan Durbar Square is the smallest among the three palaces of the valley, it is no less significant in art and architectures. Among all, the beauty of Sundari Chowk is incomparable, which in fact extended the palace itself from the southern side. Some said that King Siddhi Narshimha Malla became so ambitious to have the ‘unearthly’ bath spout constructed that he even shifted an ancient Buddhist monastery to some other places and constructed a totally new courtyard on that place. It was the year 1647 AD.

The courtyard of well-proportioned three-storey quadrangle, an outstanding example of Newari architecture reflects the luxury a royal residents could seek out of indigenous ornamentation.

The intricate door way is decorated with guarding images giant stone lions, Hanuman, Narasimha and Ganesh by the wall.

Though the quadrangle itself is not so big, each and every corner has the power to spell bound any visitor with its unparalleled beauty with the minutest carving. Its interior part particularly beautiful, with, and on the top floor a sacreen gallery that over looks the Tusa hiti, the royal bath.

One can hardly find any structure, which is non-functional there. All the structures bear separate utility in the construction or keeping it intact for centuries. On the ground floor, a series of columns leave a small piece of semi-open area under the building. The wood beams are heavily decorated, so are the doors, windows and struts. But, apart from that, the artists have made the whole quadrangle a big sculpture and with detail carvings, giving each piece of wood and stone shapes of Brahmanical deities, human beings, legendary animals and flowers.

The windows just look like showpieces, hanging on the wall. On the third floor, a series latticed windows or screen-verandah is make continuously on all four sides.

The central part of stone-paved ground is the stone waterspout, which used to be the royal bath in Malla times where the religious kings used to purify themselves, offer water to all the deities before thinking about politics. It was so beautiful that Pratam Malla had a copy of it in his Hanumandhoka palace. The water spout is made of metal in the shape of a cock shell, on which gilt Vishnu sits with his consort Laxmi, about to fly on Garuda, his vehicle. It is guarded by two relief images of elephants below the spout.

The spout valley or pit is surrounded by at over 70 magnificent stone idols of Hindu deities in two series of niches, on its retaining wall as well as on the brink. The whole set of beauties is encircled by a pair of serpents, in the mood of protecting the shrine and pilgrims. Moreover, just above the spout one can find miniature of the famous Krishna Temple.

But having such a marvellous specimen of art and monument of cultural heritage is not enough. For at least seven years, the court has been closed. The section of Department of Archaeology does not even have a clear concept what should be done with the courtyard.

The officers there said that Sundari Chowk is closed because the surrounding buildings are crumbling and is waiting for renovation.

But the truth is that nobody knows when it will be renovated. Out of foreign donation, an extravagant "documentation" was done several years ago that blew up tens of millions of rupees. And the department is waiting that some other donors will come up and renovate the monument for them.
[ Kathmandu, Sunday, March 31, 2000 Chaitra 18, 2058.]
http://www.nepalnews.com.np/contents/englishweekly/sundaypost/2002/mar/mar31/2ndpage.htm#3