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Locals in Kathmandu protest against new master plan for Pashupati area, claim it endangers heritage

Locals in Kathmandu protest against new master plan for Pashupati area, claim it endangers heritage

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Kathmandu [Nepal], October 6 (ANI): Locals around the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu have staged a protest against the newly introduced master plan to make changes around the World Heritage and major religious site, claiming that it would endanger the ancient temple.
Formed a protest committee, the locals around Pashupati staged a sit-in protest in front of the Pashupati Area Development Trust on Monday, claiming that the plan would wipe out the ancient residence and threaten the heritage .
Speaking to ANI, Ashaman Sangat, coordinator of the protest committee, said: "The Pashupati Area Development Trust has introduced a new master plan, and we are against it because it does not favour the locals and also threatens our religion, culture and heritage. Only the officials of the Trust participated in a discussion and prepared plans without the supervision of experts and further plans to award it as a contract to a particular person. As it has been prepared inside a closed room and several faults have surfaced in it, we are demanding it to be scrapped off."
As per the proposed plan, the Pashupati area has been divided into certain areas and sub-areas for the implementation of programs according to priorities and long-term development plans, which ranges for 100 years.
The areas have been defined by their socio-religious significance, archaeological significance, physical state, topography and present and future land use, among other factors.
The third master plan for the development of Pashupati Area had concluded in 2008-09.
The newly debated fourth plan has taken nearly a decade to formulate, which proposes to expand the area of the Pashupatinath temple by demolishing the current structures excluding the main temple to manage huge crowds of devotees by providing them with better facilities.
It has been estimated that around 40 billion Nepali rupees would be required for the implementation of the masterplan. Furthermore, hospitals to be built at Gothatar, Pashupati City Hall and Pashupati Study Center as major components are included in the ploy.
Parking facilities at Tilganga and Umakunda areas have also been suggested, by dividing the area in three sections - Core Area, Consonant Area, and Continuum Area.
The plan has defined Pashupati and Guheswori temple precincts as core area along with religious, social and geographical forms associated with these temples. Furthermore, the Pashupati core area is divided into three sub-areas while the continuum area constitutes the remaining part of the Pashupati area and falls outside the consonant area.
In order to effectively manage the work plan, it has been further divided into three parts. Apart from core, consonant and continuum area, the master plan is also divided into service areas.
534 ropanis of land in the area of Gothatar has been allotted for service area where the proposed hospital will be built to provide free health services to people. It has also proposed to develop Darshan Path of Pashupatinath with the facilities of locker service, toilet facilities with bathroom, lobby, restaurant, information desk and screening of visuals related to Pashupatinath.
The Pashupati Area Parikrama Path plans to assemble the Pashupati, Guheshwori, Kirateshowr, Shivapuri Ashram, Tilganga, Gaushala, Bhandarkhal, Sifal, Bhadarshwor, Chabahil Stupa, Jaybageshwori and Rudragadeswor area. It also is further divided into two parts- short and long route.
In addition, the reconstructions of big temples like Bishworupa, and some other temples damaged in 2015 earthquake, are included in the plan with the aim of completion in five years. As the new plan requires a large portion of land to be implemented, a large number of families around Pashupatinath are likely to be displaced.
Locals who have claimed that their residence date back to hundreds of years have refused to shift out, claiming that the plan has failed to specify the concept thus leaving doubts.
"We have been living in this area since the Licchivi era, our ancestors have started residing in this area since then, while The Pashupati Area Development Trust was established in 2043 BS. How does an organization which came later get the authority to determine the area it administers? It has mentioned the plan to displace people who have been residing here since ages. There are many more flaws in the proposed 293 paged plan which cannot be deliberated in a short time. It does not plan to preserve the existing fairs, temples, dharmashalas, culture and tradition followed around, and instead plans to vacate the area proposing places for meditation, yoga, ponds and entrances, which itself is fictitious," Sangat asserted.
It is estimated that 7.98 billion Nepali rupees would be required for preservation, 16.48 billion Nepali rupees for development construction and facility, 2.89 billion Nepali rupees for physical infrastructure, 1.61 billion Nepali rupees for forest and environment conservation, 600 million Nepali rupees for education, publicity and awareness generation and 485 million Nepali rupees for study, survey and project preparations.
The revered Hindu Temple spreads to 264 hectares of land but hardly occupies 50 to 60 hectares of land. Of the total land, 1161 ropanis comes under airport while most belonging to it has been turned into private land. (ANI)

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