Sunday, November 09, 2003

Govt, local bodies encroach ponds in Kirtipur

Razen Manandhar
Kirtipur, November 8

Dozens of ponds around the medieval hillock of Kirtipur, around 8 km south
west of Kathmandu, are being encroached by government and local

Strategically, Kirtipur is one of the well-designed settlements of the Malla
period. The hillock was surrounded by walls and there was a trench which
also served as a canal for irrigation. The trench later turned into ponds.

But due to rapid urbanisation, these ponds have been encroached. As a
result, hardly any of them have water and most of them have already been
turned into private buildings, campuses, libraries and health posts.

"We used to see fish in these ponds some 15 years ago and the water was also
used for farming. But God knows, what has happened to our town, nobody is
interested in its conservation," said Krishna Lal Maharjan, a farmer,
pointing towards a grassy patch of land near a swimming pool.

Local Nikhashi Pukhoo was turned into Shahid Campus, Bhni Pukhoo became
Ilaka Police Office, and one Palye Pukhoo has been turned into a Health
Clinic. Another Palye Pukhoo is on its way of being turned into a
multi-purpose building, under a controversial project of the Kirtipur

According to Shukra Sagar Shrestha of the Department of Archaeology, the
ponds one can find today used to serve the town as a security trench. "These
ponds are the evidence of urban planning of the medieval civilisation," he
said, adding that if the ponds cannot be revived then they should be
utilised as parks so that excavation projects can also be taken up.

The Palye Pukhoo of Ward No 4 on which the Kirtipur Municipality has decided
to construct a multi-purpose building, is an ancient one, which has a
special cultural purpose of offering lotus flowers to the Buddhist temple of

Gyan Ratna Bajracharya, a member of Chilanchwo Bhagwan Guthi said the trust
for the Chilanchwo had 60 ropanis of land, out of which 56 ropanis had been
acquired by the Tribhuwan University and the remaining four ropanis is being
targeted by the municipality.

"We had been offering lotus flowers to Chilanchwo for ages. But we later
stopped this practice as the government withdrew our facilities. Later on,
some social organisations started keeping fish in the pond, which also
disappeared," he said. He has been fighting alone to save the ponds. The
Guthi Sansthan has stated that the ponds have historic value and hence
should be conserved. However, the municipality has not give up the idea of
construction which has generated controversy in the past two weeks.

The deputy mayor of Kirtipur Municipality Panna Ratna Bajracharya said that
the protests would not affect the municipality's decision. He did not
release the technical details and estimated budget of the building.

Meanwhile, the officers of Local Development Ministry said that the
municipality should not take up construction work on public land. "Specially
cultural properties like ponds are the local heritage. The municipalities
should conserve instead of destroying them," he said.