Thursday, 9 December, 2021

Valley's World Heritage sites out of danger list


By Binu Shrestha
Kathmandu, July 28: The 44th online session of World Heritage Committee has decided not to put the property of the Kathmandu Valley on the list of World Heritage in Danger.
A meeting of the committee that examined and raised some issues concerning the state of conservation of the Kathmandu Valley property is being held in Fuzhou, China. The meeting that began on July 16 will continue till July 31.
Five representatives from Nepal have been participating from Nepal in the meeting. They include officials from the Department of Archeology, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and French Embassy in Nepal
The World Heritage Committee had kept the Kathmandu Valley on the list of danger in its draft decision. After discussion with several participating nations’ representatives in the online session the committee took the decision, said Dr. Suresh Shrestha, information officer and archeological officer of the Department of Archaeology (DoA).
The request of the committee to put the property of Kathmandu Valley on the list of World Heritage in Danger had been rejected by the representatives of several nations.
The committee has requested the state party to submit an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of its recommendations to be examined by the committee at its 45th session in 2022.
Around 15 of the 133 participating nations had supported Nepal in the session. Nigeria, Bahrain, Australia, Brazil, Norway, Thailand, Russia, China, Oman, Kyrgyzstan, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Africa, Bosnia and Hungary supported and expressed their views in favour of Nepal.
Shrestha said those countries supporting Nepal said that reconstruction process was delayed while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. It should motivate Nepal giving a chance and time to complete the remaining reconstruction works of the monuments.
Of the 170 damaged heritage monuments in the Kathmandu Valley, 116 monuments have been rebuilt despite the lockdown and prohibitory order imposed by the government to control and prevent COVID-19.
Expressing his views at the session, Shrestha said that Nepal had been working to preserve and reconstruct the heritages of the Kathmandu Valley after the earthquake in coordinating with other concerned bodies.
“Our previous target of reconstructing the damaged monuments was five to seven years. Five years have already been elapsed and the remaining reconstruction works will be completed within two years.” he said.
The committee has raised question that the state party had not reviewed the Integrated Management Plan (INT) and Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) of the Kathmandu Valley.
Shrestha said that it has already reviewed the INT and waiting for approval to review the HIAs.
The World Heritage Committee has been expressing its doubt whether Nepal alone could rebuild the damaged monuments after the earthquake and trying to put the Kathmandu Valley in endangered list to provide World Heritage Committee’s support for the last five years.
But it was found that putting the World Heritage Sites in the endangered list would send a negative message mostly to the tourism sector, Shrestha said. “So, we have been trying to keep the Kathmandu Valley out of the danger list.”
The advisory bodies of World Heritage Convention, Reactive Monitoring Missions had visited Nepal thrice since the 2015 earthquake. They visited Kathmandu in October 2016 for the first time, in March 2017 for the second time and in October 2019 for the last time to monitor the progress.
The team of Reactive Monitoring Mission in 2019 had reported to the committee stating that the progress of reconstruction works of damaged heritages was very good.
There are seven monument zones in the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Sites which were earlier put on the list of World Heritage in Danger in 2003 but succeeded to keep them out of the list in 2007.