New technology, materials okay for heritage rebuilding

KATHMANDU, May 21: The Department of Archaeology (DoA) has issued guidelines on rebuilding and renovation of historical monuments, including various heritage sites, that were destroyed by earthquake last year.

This is the first time that the government body has come up with such guidelines for the reconstruction of structures of historical importance.
The guidelines allow the use of additional technology or materials if this is required to make the structures stronger than they would be using the traditional system. However, the advice of experts and the department’s approval are a must before turning to such technology and materials.

The guidelines also make the participation of local people mandatory while carrying out renovation and reconstruction of historical monuments.
“If we need to rebuild any heritage site stronger than before, we need advice from the experts and  the rebuilding can then be done using some latest technology as well,” Chief Archaeological Officer at DoA Suresh Suras Shrestha told Republica. He described the provision allowing modern technology and materials as a new concept. “We have included a new concept as the country has undergone changes following the major earthquake. This is a new step toward preserving our age-old sites.”

Previously, the Ancient Monuments Conservation Act 2013 BS had stated that monuments can be rebuilt and renovated  only with the use of traditional materials and techniques. The new guidelines also make it mandatory for the monuments to have their original shape and look even after the use of modern technology and materials.

Shrestha said that the guidelines have not made clear the kinds of modern materials and technology that can be used as this will depend on expert’s advice.
“A large number of monuments collapsed from the foundations up. Our main focus is to rebuild them on stronger foundations. The additional technology and materials will be used only if this is needed to reduce vulnerability to disasters,” said an official at DoA requesting anonymity.

Officials said the guidelines have already been enforced in the reconstruction of some monuments at various sites. Meanwhile, DoA has opened bids for rebuilding 49 monuments that were damaged by earthquake. Different companies have already started reconstruction of four monuments inside Kathmandu Valley from April 23, coinciding with the first anniversary of the April 25 earthquake.

DoA also mentioned in the guidelines that traditional artisans will be involved and they also plan to train youths for this purpose. According to DoA, altogether 140 monuments were totally damaged in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Nuwakot, Gorkha and some other districts.

First appeared in Republica national daily