The Lumbini Development Master Plan drawn up by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange in 1978 was to be completed in 15 years. Four decades later, the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) says it still needs 15 years to do the job.
Prime Minister KP Oli, during his first tenure in 2016, had instructed the LDT to complete all 18 remaining infrastructure projects in the master plan within two years. However, instead of allocating more resources, the Ministry of Finance cut the budget for Lumbini from Rs710 million in 2016 to Rs570 million in 2017.
Lack of resources, however, is not the only reason for the slow pace of work. Political instability and corruption play an even bigger role — the LDT has been led by as many as 34 Ministers of Culture in the last 28 years. Most of them were political appointees intent on making money on the side.
Laxman Pokharel, a Buddhist scholar in Lumbini, says: “If the government really cares about this sacred shrine, it first needs to stop appointing its cadre to the LDT.”