The Department of Archeology is responsible for most of these violations of heritage conservation norms. The public and activists had to directly intervene to stop the inappropriate rebuilding of Rani Pokhari under the supervision of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, while the Department of Archeology watched in silent complicity.
Using tarpaulin sheets to hide the reconstruction from public view, the City started building cement retaining walls around the 17th century pond that holds great religious, cultural and architectural significance. Not only was the use of concrete illegal as per the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, the City planned to turn the site into a commercial park.
The 7th century Kasthamandap monument was destroyed in the earthquake killing ten people. Since its reconstruction was constantly undermined by the government, the local community campaigned to rebuild it with voluntary public participation. But Mayor Shakya decided to rebuild it using the City’s funds – effectively sabotaging the community’s involvement.
While Kathmandu bungles monument reconstruction, in Lalitpur the pace and quality of rebuilding by a non-profit conservation group is far superior. Bhaktapur is the other role model with the largest number of reconstruction projects undertaken by local communities with financial and logistics support from the Municipality. When the ‘consumers’ of the heritage get to participate in rebuilding, their bond with it is that much stronger.