Decision : CONF 202 IV.B.70
Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)
The demolition and new construction or alterations of historic buildings within Kathmandu Valley have persisted in spite of concerted international and national conservation efforts. This has resulted in the loss or continuous and gradual deterioration of materials, structure, ornamental features, and architectural coherence making the essential settings of the Monument Zones as well as in their authentic characters. In view of the above, the Committee, at its twenty-third session, requested a High Level Mission to be undertaken to hold discussions with representatives of HMG of Nepal in early 2000. The Bureau was informed that the tentative dates for the High Level Mission, 23-30 September 2000, had been proposed to HMG of Nepal. The participants of the Mission would be the Chairperson of the Committee, an eminent international expert on Kathmandu Valley, a former Minister of Housing of the Government of France, the Director of the World Heritage Centre, and Centre staff. The Chairperson informed the Bureau that the High Level Mission could not be undertaken earlier, as the dates proposed in September were the only dates convenient to the participants and the Government.
The Centre informed the Bureau that the public rest house in Patan Darbar Square Monument Zone, which had been illegally dismantled without approval of the Department of Archaeology, in September 1999 despite conditions which permitted in-situ repair, had been reconstructed using new building material.
The Delegate of Zimbabwe noted with disappointment that the High Level Mission had not been undertaken earlier in the year as specified by the Committee, especially in light of further information on continued illegal demolition of historic buildings within the World Heritage protected areas. He was concerned about the delay with regard to the application of the extension of the site. Recalling the extended discussions during the twenty-third session of the Committee concerning the serious loss of the authentic urban fabrics within the site over the past years, the Delegate reiterated the Committee’s recognition of the gravity of the situation, which should not be underestimated. Although the Committee had decided to again defer the inscription of the Kathmandu Valley site on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its twenty-third session, the Delegate underscored that continued illegal demolition of historic buildings was unacceptable and the commitment and capacity of the State Party in implementing existing regulations were seriously questioned.
The Bureau recalled that at the twenty-first session of the Committee, in view of the continued deterioration of the World Heritage values in the Bauddhanath and Kathmandu Monument Zones, affecting the integrity and inherent characteristics of the site, the Committee had requested the Secretariat, in collaboration with ICOMOS and the State Party, to study the possibility of deleting selected areas within some Monument Zones, without jeopardizing the universal significance and value of the site as a whole. This review was to take into consideration the intention of HMG of Nepal to nominate Khokana as an additional Monument Zone. The Bureau also recalled that this study, undertaken during the UNESCO-ICOMOS-HMG of Nepal Joint Mission in 1998, found that although Khokana’s characteristics could add to the recognized World Heritage values of Kathmandu Valley, it was not possible for the vernacular architectural characteristics of Khokana to replace the lost characteristics within the existing Monument Zones. It was recalled that the Committee requested in 1998, HMG of Nepal to take the necessary measures to ensure adequate protection and management of Khokana prior to its nomination as an additional Monument Zone to the Kathmandu Valley site. The Bureau was informed that the nomination file for the inscription of Khokana Mustard Seed Village as an Additional Monument Zone to the Kathmandu Valley site, had been received in early 2000, but the requested protective measures were not included amongst the documents submitted.
The Representative of ICOMOS informed the Bureau that they had not received a demand for extension of this site, as requested by the Bureau and the Committee on previous occasions.
The Delegate of Hungary expressed his concern, pointing out that the High Level Mission and the extension of the site were two separate issues that should be dealt with separately.
The Bureau requested HMG of Nepal to continue making all possible efforts to protect the remaining authentic historic urban fabric within the Kathmandu Valley site, and in implementing the 55 Recommendations and Time-Bound Action Plan of the UNESCO-ICOMOS-HMG of Nepal Joint Mission. The Bureau requested the Secretariat and the advisory bodies to continue to assist the State Party as appropriate in order to strengthen its capacity to control development, retain historic buildings in-situ, to address the problem of illegal demolition and new construction, and redress illegal alteration of historic buildings. The Bureau requested the Centre to ensure adequate preparation of the High Level Mission scheduled for September 2000 and to report on the results to the twenty-fourth extraordinary session of the Bureau and the twenty-fourth session of the Committee.
Finally, the Bureau expressed appreciation for the Government's effort to nominate Khokana Mustard Seed Village as an additional Monument Zone to Kathmandu Valley. However, in view of the absence of legislative protection of the core and buffer zones of the sites, the Bureau reiterated the Committee’s request to HMG of Nepal to take the necessary measures to ensure that adequate protection and management are put into place at Khokana.