Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)
Upon the initiative of ICOMOS, the report pertaining to the Valley of Kathmandu was submitted to the attention of the Committee. This site is the subject of a UNESCO international safeguard campaign and, as the ICOMOS Representative pointed out, numerous reports have been written about it for the past twenty years. Moreover, following an ICOMOS seminar held recently in Nepal on wood conservation, the ICOMOS Representative was able to confirm previously identified obstacles posed by the protection of sites in the Kathmandu Valley. He expressed his concern for the future safeguarding of these sites, due especially to the absence of technical personnel and skilled labour, and to the quality of some restorations of wooden monuments with true architectural value, in and outside in the protected area.
The conclusions drawn by ICOMOS addressed different levels of intervention (site boundaries, legislation, human resources) and propose involving UNESCO and ICOMOS in a global evaluation process of everything which has been done from the standpoint of safeguarding the cultural heritage of Kathmandu.
The Delegate of Germany, who expressed his concern at this alarming report, asked the Committee to consider extending the seven protected areas so as to include all the historic and artistic elements of exceptional value, and to create a buffer zone which would comprise the greatest part of the Valley. Furthermore, he suggested to recommend to the Nepalese Government to substantially increase the staff at the Antiquities Department and the funds at their disposal so that they may act effectively with regard to urban development threatening the Valley.
The Delegate of Tunisia reported on his contacts with two teams of experts (Germany and the United States of America) who only confirmed the conclusions drawn by ICOMOS, which he commended. He expressed the hope that the Committee approve the recommendations made by ICOMOS and that ICCROM reinforce this action in this field with the support of the Committee. The Delegate from Pakistan and the ICCROM Observer each discussed in turn the importance of acting in order to preserve the heritage of the Kathmandu Valley.
The Delegate of Pakistan recalled that the use of wood in architecture was a very old tradition since protohistoric times. Hence, in India the Palaces of Pathipulsa are wooden structures in spite of the fragility of this material. It is for this reason that particular attention should be paid to the preservation of wooden structures in historic areas in tropical countries, as is the case for Kathmandu.
Following this discussion, the Committee adopted the recommendations made by ICOMOS and asked the World Heritage Centre to contact the Nepalese authorities to study all the recommendations of ICOMOS and the Committee.