The Nepalese newspaper Kathmandu Post reported concerns among the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) regarding the reconstruction of Ranipokhari, a historic artificial pond built in 1670 AD in the heart of Nepal's capital Kathmandu.
Its main building, Balgopaleswor Temple, which stands in the middle of the pond, was destroyed during the April 2015 earthquake.
UNESCO wrote a letter to the Kathmandu Metropolitan City and the Department of Archaeology urging to halt the ongoing work, fearing that hurry and inappropriate techniques are undermining the final result.
“Since the very beginning of the reconstruction, UNESCO has stressed in meetings and letters addressed to the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and National Reconstruction Authority, the importance of changing bidding procedures for historical monuments,” the UNESCO noted in its statement on Thursday.
The Kathmandu Post reported the letter to read that the international heritage conservation organisation is worried about awarding reconstruction works to the cheapest bidder, a practice which should not be used when it comes to restoring heritage buildings.
UNESCO offered its full cooperation and technical expertise in managing the situation and identifying suitable solutions. They also urged the Department of Archaeology to take care of the post-quake reconstruction process.
“We trust that the Kathmandu Metropolitan City and the Department of Archaeology will take concrete and effective steps to maintain and preserve the religious, cultural and historical significance of the Ranipokhari and the entire Kathmandu,” stated UNESCO.
The international organisation is not the only actor worried about the heritage reconstruction. The website Nepali Time reported a student's protest in Kathmandu against the use of cement in Ranipokhari's rebuilding. Demonstrators were carrying placards reading 'Save our heritage' and 'Save our identity'.
After natural disasters there is always a comprehensible hurry in reconstructing everything, a country needs ant want to go back to a normal life. This urgency applies particularly on damaged cultural heritage which represent a source of income for the local communities.
Historical buildings need special interventions and techniques though and these are normally expensive and not always fast.
Taking shortcuts could save some time, but this comes at the expenses of the beauty or of the stability of heritage with the only final result of affecting the touristic potential of a country.