Monday, 29 November, 2021
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Lack of timber hampers heritage reconstruction



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By Binu Shrestha
Kathmandu, Dec. 22: Work on the reconstruction of heritages in the Kathmandu Valley and all across the country has been hit by a shortage of timber.
The government banned logging and transportation of timber on May 28, 2020, in order to effectively investigate alleged financial irregularities in timber sales, ensure transparency in the expenditure of community forest funds and control haphazard tree felling. But this has resulted in a shortage of wood, a key component for the renovation and reconstruction of historical structures.
“A large quantity of wood, and in different shapes and sizes, is needed for the heritages,” said Damodar Gautam, director general at the Department of Archaeology (DoA). “We have spoken to the concerned authorities and have asked them to provide us with the required lumber. Hopefully, they will respond to us positively.”
Meanwhile, Nepal Ban Nigam Limited, the government-owned entity for cutting and selling timber to the general public and the organisations at reasonable prices while at the same time systematically conserving the forests, has said that it does not have enough wood to provide for the reconstruction of heritages damaged by the 2015 earthquake.
Sushma Acharya, information officer at the Nigam, said that the government’s ban had put a stop to timber trade in the nation.
Acharya detailed, “We have 60,000 cubic feet of logs but they are in the forests and cannot be brought to the factory because of the restrictions on transportation. The tender to produce around 40,000 cubic feet of timber had been completed but now the trees can’t be felled.
We have 6,000 cubic feet of logs in our stock but they are not of the demanded dimensions.” She shared that big and long logs had been demanded for the reconstruction.
This lack of lumber had affected work on the Kasthamandap as well. According to Gautam Dongol, secretary at the Kasthamandap Reconstruction Committee, the team has not received logs since the start of the nationwide lockdown in March.
An estimated 17,508 cubic feet of timber is required to build the iconic three-storied public shelter. The reconstruction committee had signed an agreement with the Ban Nigam for the management of this quantity of wood. “Till date, we have obtained 7,166 cubic feet of timber and are yet to obtain 9,891 cubic feet,” Dongol said.
The wood shortage has also hampered work on Lalitpur’s Red Machhindranath Temple which needs 391 cubic feet of timber but has only received 150 cubic feet.
“A lot of wood-based works still remain to be done but we have no wood in stock,” said Amir Shakya, chairman of the Red Machhindranath Temple Reconstruction Consumer Committee. “Lack of wood from the government side has forced us to buy it from the private sector.”
“If the DoA arranged the supply of wood through the Ban Nigam then we would not have to worry about the price and could perhaps get the required quantity of wood in time,” Shakya hoped.