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Reconstruction of 40 percent quake-damaged heritage sites completed in Nepal

Kathmandu: Nepal has completed reconstruction of around 40 percent of cultural and archaeological monuments that were damaged in the earthquake of 2015, according to National Reconstruction Authority (NRA).

The latest reconstruction update provided by NRA states that out of total 891 cultural heritages damaged in the disaster, reconstruction of 380 sites including 96 within the world heritage sites and 284 within the other cultural sites has been completed so far.

A total of Rs 2.12 billion (18.66 million U.S. dollars)has been spent on the rebuilding of these damaged monuments in the last over four years.

"We have intensified the reconstruction task of cultural heritages. But it is true that construction has not been in speed pace as compared to other sectors like infrastructures, schools or hospitals," Pitambar Ghimire, joint secretary and NRA spokesperson told Xinhua on Sunday.

Ghimire explained that the reconstruction of heritages sites faces several challenges like maintaining originality of the rich heritage, availability of manpower skilled in art and architecture, availability of traditional construction materials among others.

"Reconstruction of ancient and culturally rich sites requires cooperation from local communities and archaeological experts as well. We have been trying our best to complete the remaining works soon," spokesperson Ghimire added.

In coordination with NRA, Department of Archaeology has been entrusted with the reconstruction of heritage sites, which has to fully comply with archaeological principles like using only traditional bricks and timber to maintain the originality and avoiding modern construction materials among others.

According to Damodar Gautam, Director General at Department of Archaeology, at least 150 heritage sites would be constructed in the current fiscal year, for which budget has already been allocated.

"Since we have around two years left to complete the overall reconstruction process, we are hopeful that the remaining heritage sites will be built on time, Gautam informed Xinhua.

The major heritage sites being reconstructed currently are Kasthamandap and Nine-Storey Tower located in Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, Nine-Storey Dharahara Tower, Machhindranath temple, Ranipokhari or Queen's Pond among others.

Besides the internal resources of the government, the monuments are being reconstructed with the assistance of different countries like China, India, the United States, Japan, Switzerland and Sri Lanka among others. Nine-Storey Tower located inside the UNESCO world heritage site in capital and Seven-Storey Nuwakot Palace in the neighboring district are undergoing reconstruction under China's aid.

According to the Post Disaster Needs Assessment conducted by National Planning Commission, Nepal faced a financial loss of around Rs 806 billion in the earthquake, which is more than one third of the country's GDP.

From Xinhua - August 11 2019

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