Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Heritage conservation campaign likely to meet its end

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, March 12 - As the 21 year-old international campaign to conserve the cultural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley, launched with the initiation of United Nation’s Scientific Cultural and Educational Organization (UNESCO) ends this month, the UN body is unlikely to renew the campaign.

A heritage expert, on condition of anonymity, said UNESCO will free itself by the end of this month from what it has been doing to conserve the archaeological monuments of the Kathmandu Valley in the past two decades.

The conservation experts warn that end to this Campaign would dampen the ongoing preservation works in and around the Kathmandu Valley, which are mostly run by international donations.

International Campaign for Safeguarding the Cultural Heritage of Kathmandu Valley (ICSCHKV), which works in association with the UNESCO is among the major fund raising units for such conservation works.

Former Ambassador to France and permanent delegate to UNESCO Keshav Raj Jha said that the Campaign made a significant achievement in the public and the government staff’s attitude toward heritage conservation.

"The conclusion of the campaign should not be taken negatively. Because this will provide a good opportunity for the Nepali government and the people to manage their cultural property themselves, " he added.

On the other hand, Peter Laws, information and culture specialist of UNESCO said that this conclusion should not be taken as end of UNESCO’s assistance in the conservation works. He said, "The only difference is that from now onwards, Nepali government will be the driving force behind the works to conserve the heritage sites."

ICSCHKV is holding its fifth and the last Campaign Review Committee (CRC) Meeting from 28 March to 30, where past twenty-one years of work will be evaluated.

Peter Laws, however, said the meeting would also discuss various strategies for the future.

Dr Safalya Amatya, former Director General of Department of Archaeology hopes that the meeting would re-launch another campaign in future.

Some monument zones which were renovated with the assistance of the fund raised by the campaign include the Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and areas like Swayambhu, Pashupatinath, Boudha, Panauti, Thimi, Dahachowk, Lubhu, Bungamati, Khokna, Bode and Dadhikot.

The main objective of the Champaign was to promote significance of the Kathmandu Valley cultural heritage among the people of Nepal and the world, and to preserve it, so that the relevant national authorities can preserve and promote all the cultural heritage of Nepal, the fourth CRC report has stated.

The ICSCHKV was launched by then UNESCO Director General Amadour Mahatar M’bow in Paris on 25 June 1979. The very same year the Kathmandu Valley, consisting of seven zones — Royal palaces of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, Stupas of Swayambhu and Baudha, Temples of Pashupatinath, Changu Narayan — was enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was based on the Master Plan for the Conservation of the Cultural Heritage in the Kathmandu Valley, formulated in 1977.
[Kathmandu Tuesday March 13, 2001 Falgun 30, 2057.]