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Dharahara ready, inauguration today



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By Binu Shrestha
Kathmandu, Apr. 24: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is scheduled to inaugurate the newly rebuilt historic Dharahara on Saturday.
The inauguration is happening exactly six years after the 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck the country on April 25 of 2015, reducing it to rubbles.
It took 31 months to complete the reconstruction of the 22-storey, 83-meter-high tower. The Prime Minister is set to inaugurate it 11:00 am on Saturday, when the country will be marking Loktantra Diwas as well.
Nepal-China joint venture companies were entrusted with completing the project, which kicked off on October 6, 2018 aiming to complete it by October 6, 2020. However, due to various reasons, the deadline was extended to June, 2021, and then to December 25, 2021.
The reconstruction gained momentum after Prime Minister Oli officially laid the foundation stone of the project on December 27, 2018.
As of now, the reconstruction project, of which Dharahara Tower is the main project, has neared 60 per cent completion.
Raman Construction was awarded the contract for an estimated cost of Rs. 3.48 billion, out of which Rs. 2.12 billion has been spent so far.
Two elevators have been installed in the tower, but visitors can use traditional staircase with 380 steps to climb to the top or descend to the bottom, said Raju Man Manandhar, an expert with National Reconstruction Authority (NRA).
A 320-kg, 25-foot-high pinnacle made of brass has also been put at the top, and around 95- kg gold and 300-kg silver were used for coating the pinnacle, he added.
It took three months for seven craftsmen to prepare the artistic pinnacle.
Kishor Sujal, 17, and Rijan Tuladhar, 20, have played active role in preparing the pinnacle.
The tower looks 11-storied from outside, while it is 2-storied from inside.
Even as the Prime Minister Oli will inaugurate it, there is no plan to open it to the public for now; they will have to wait until November to climb it, added Manandhar.
The project now spreads in over 42.2 ropanis of land, after it acquired the land belonging to the Department of Mint, Goshwara Postal Office and southern part of Kathmandu Mall.
The Dharahara master plan features a museum, triple basement underground parking and mini-exhibition theatre. The top of the underground third storey will be developed as a green park, as well as various facilities like water fountain, stone spout, shops and exhibition hall. The parking hall can accommodate 350 four-wheelers and 6,000 two-wheelers at a time.
Located at the prime area with a heritage site nearby, the new Dharahara will be the first model structure in Nepal, according to Manandhar.
Bhimsen Thapa, the first Prime Minister of modern Nepal, had built the tower in 1832. The 9-storey structure originally had 213 steps in its spiral staircase to the top and a balcony on the seventh storey. But the original tower collapsed in the 1934 earthquake and new one was built which also fell in 2015.