Four reasons to demolish Singha Durbar: Report

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Ministry of Urban Development has concluded that the main building of the quake-damaged Singha Durbar needs to be demolished.

The recommendation experts deployed by Central Level Project Implementation Unit of the Ministry conducted study on Singha Durbar. The Project chief Shivahari Sharma concluded that a new building needs to be constructed as its existing structures was damaged in last year's Gorkha quake in such a way that they could not be retrofitted.

"The study conducted twice has prepared a report which concluded that the building has to be demolished," Sharma said. "The report is based on studies. But we have not made such decision yet."

The Unit had entrusted Digicon Company to provide recommendation on the reconstruction of Singha Durbar. The Company prepared the report by conducting study for 4 months on Singha Durbar, buildings of Babbarmahal, Kesharmahal and Central Child Welfare Board.

According to Sharma, the building of Singha Durbar has to be demolished under 4 different grounds.  

A quake-damaged house is categorized on five grades. The Grade V comprises fully damaged buildings, Grade IV includes those damaged structures which are not collapsed, Grade III and II include those structures which can be retrofitted and restored. Grade I comprises structures which have normal damages. The study finds that existing building of Singha Durbar is categorized under Grade IV. Those buildings that fall under Grade IV and V need to be demolished.

Secondly, veranda of Singha Durbar is in precarious state due to continuous rain that fall from upper part of the building since one and half year. Its building is currently covered by plastic but it will help save the building from getting damped. The damped walls have to be demolished completely. The report says retrofitting alone will not help save the building.

Thirdly, architecture of the building cannot be saved even if retrofitting is done. This means the building cannot be retained in its current form.

Fourth reason as per the report states that the building will not remain strong despite retrofitting in the building.

"The report says a new building needs to be constructed according to the existing one," Sharma said, "We've submitted the report after completing all the governmental procedures. However, it is not obligatory to do accordingly the report and we can conduct other reports. The report is not the final one."

Department of Archeology argued that Urban Ministry's report is incorrect and claimed that it will conduct its own study.

Managing Director of Department Bheshnarayan Dahal accused the Ministry of conducting study with a motive of demolishing the structure. "Experts have suggested conducting additional studies as they could not forge consensus on the report," Dahal said, "We cannot back the report that suggests demolishing the archeological heritages."

According to him, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has shown its readiness to retrofit the structure instead of demolishing it. "It has said that it will help if necessary," he said, "The Department is holding discussion to conduct study on Singha Durbar by raising fund by itself."

Sharma said, "As the company had conducted the study by mobilizing Nepali engineers, additional study can be conducted by foreign experts who may also suggest for retrofitting."

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