Because the clustered towns of the Newārs in Kathmandu Valley suffered the brunt of the 2015 earthquake, there is now pressure on the national government to respect the traditions, needs and demands of the local people in reconstructing them.
Almost three years on, many homes have yet to be rebuilt even though monuments next door are being rebuilt with foreign assistance. Confusion about housing grants as well as disagreement on whether they should be rebuilt the government’s way or as the local people want, have delayed rebuilding.
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Because individual houses occupy such small areas of the dense inner-city and land is so expensive, the government would like the people to move into apartment blocks. But original inhabitants would be living in flats, or be displaced.
House pooling was proposed as an ideal solution with shared ownership, but even that has been marred with legal and ethical issues.
Damba Chuka in Kathmandu is an example. Maharjans, Dongols, Myepus and Sāpus mainly live in this neighbourhood of the Kilāghal area. Most are farmers or have livestock, while others are involved in trade and service. Their 80 houses are spread along a narrow passage and around tiny, yet well-lit courtyards. The presence of wood, clay and brick houses, wells, shrines, stūpas and chuka (courtyards) are all defining features of classical Newar architecture, and make the neighbourhood a model for indigenous Nepali heritage.
After the earthquake damaged a part of it, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) proposed a single monolithic structure. Land ownership certificates of individual householders would be exchanged for shares and spaces in the new apartments.