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Kathmandu Valley

Nepal
Factors affecting the property in 1994*
  • Effects arising from use of transportation infrastructure
  • Housing
  • Land conversion
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Need for restoration/consolidation works

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Collapse of the roof of the Patan Temple (issue resolved)
  • Landslide
  • Need to revise the implementation of the Action Plan
  • Need for restoration/consolidation works
  • Encroachment
  • Rebuilding
  • Traffic pressures 
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1994
Requests approved: 7 (from 1979-1994)
Total amount approved : 173,910 USD
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1994

UNESCO/ICOMOS mission has prepared and finalized the report of the review mission on the state of conservation of the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site.

The mission was undertaken in November 1993 and was requested to:

  1. evaluate the current and past conservation activities;
  2. examine the state of conservation of the seven monument zones belonging to the World Heritage Site;
  3. verify the boundaries of the site as nominated in 1979;
  4. assess the support capacities of the national and municipal authorities; and
  5. evaluate the proposed amendments to the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act 1956 (4th amendment).

The review mission defined sixteen areas in which significant improvements should be made in order to maintain the integrity of the original inscription. The mission also suggested increased international support and a permanent UNESCO presence at the site. It is also suggested that the Government of Nepal consider recommending to the Bureau/Committee to place the Kathmandu Valley on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in order to increase international support.

Since November 1993 the following actions have been taken.

  1. Meetings were held, at the beginning of March 1994, at UNESCO during the visit of the Secretary General of the Nepalese National Commission for UNESCO.
  2. UNESCO, at the request of the Nepalese Authorities, fielded a mission in early May to assist the Nepalese Authorities in drafting and suggesting modifications to the Fourth Amendment of the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act 1956. This follows the recommendation of the review mission in order to bring the legislation in compliance with international standards on the subject.
  3. UNESCO, in close collaboration with the Nepalese Authorities, is organizing a workshop in Kathmandu with the aim of strengthening the local capacity in the field of building technology and the use of appropriate construction materials in the restoration work. An exhibition on the World Heritage site of Kathmandu Valley will also be organized.
  4. Two emergency assistance requests amounting to US$44,910.00 have been put forward by the Nepalese Authorities and eventually approved by the Chairman of the World Heritage Committee. The requests aimed to undertake urgent restoration work in the Degu Taleju Mandir and Patuko Agamchhen located in Patan Darbar Square and along the boundary of the protected Monumental Zone of Patan Darbar, respectively, were well motivated and supported by the review mission.

Copy of the report has been distributed to the concerned parties as well as to Bureau members.

========================
Report prepared by ICOMOS

Kathmandu Valley, Nepal (C 121)

Background

The Kathmandu Valley was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979. The inscription is a multiple one and includes seven distinct monument zones: the Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Patati and Bhaktapur; the two Buddhist sanctuaries of Swayambhu and Bauddhanath; and the two Hindu sites of Pashupati and Changu Narayan. During the December 1992 meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Santa Fe, ICOMOS brought to the attention of the Committee the rapidly deteriorating state of the World Heritage site and the very real difficulties faced by His Majesty's Government of Nepal in countering these difficulties. ICOMOS's observations followed from a meeting of the ICOMOS International Wood Committee held in the Kathmandu Valley in November 1992. The June 1993 meeting of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee received reports from ICOMOS and UNESCO staff of continuing pressure on historic buildings in the Kathmandu Valley, including the demolition of historic buildings within the inscribed zone. The Bureau supported the suggestion of a joint ICOMOS/UNESCO review mission to examine these apparent difficulties at first hand during the latter half of 1993.

The ten-member ICOMOS/UNESCO mission met during the period 14-30 November 1993; the members were mission leader Alfeo Tonellotto (UNESCO World Heritage Centre), ICOMOS consultants David Michelmore (UK) and Surya Sangache (Nepal), Romi Khosla (India), Hideo Noguchi (UNESCO Division of Physical Heritage), Dr E Sekler (Austria: Chairman, UNESCO Campaign for the Kathmandu Valley), and three consultants with many years' experience of restoration in Nepal - N Gutschow (Germany), G Hagmüller (Germany), and E Theophile (USA).

A summary of their report was received during the Cartagena meeting of the World Heritage Committee in December 1993. On the basis of the urgent concerns outlined within the report, ICOMOS proposed that the Committee encourage the Government of Nepal to consider recommending inclusion of the Kathmandu Valley on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Unfortunately, the report's supporting documentation was not available for consultation during the meeting and both the Government of Nepal and the Committee were reluctant to accept the recommendation without this material. The final report of the review mission, including all pertinent documentation, was completed in May 1994 and circulated within ICOMOS and UNESCO for comment, It has also been sent to the Nepalese authorities for their comment.

Summary of Review Mission Conclusions

The review mission report details many of the conservation difficulties facing the Kathmandu Valley:

Inadequate demolition and development control at national and municipal levels:

  • erection of unauthorized reinforced concrete high-rise structures in the monument zones;
  • unauthorized demolition of monuments or historic residences within the inscribed zone (the report provides specific examples of such demolitions in five of the seven monument zones);
Lack of technical and financial resources to address conservation needs adequately:
  • loss of traditional skills and materials, frequently resulting in technically unsound repair work;
  • inadequate funds to carry out needed capital repair and restoration projects on major monuments;
The renewal of elements of religious complexes (itself a continuing tradition) in materials and styles unsympathetic to traditional building practices.

The review mission report makes two primary recommendations;

1.   Adjustment of the boundaries of all seven monument zones, in some cases involving reduction of the zones to correspond with areas of loss of significant integrity within the zones and in others their extension or =delineation to include more accurately structures of value equivalent to those already included in the inscribed monument zones. It should be noted that a recommendation to reduce the boundaries of some of the monument zones in recognition of the extent to which the values for which they were inscribed have been eroded is more than mere adjustment: it is rather a tacit delisting of areas previously accepted for inclusion on the World Heritage List;

2.   That the Kathmandu Valley be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger; a series of sixteen concerns to be addressed in order to secure removal of the site from die List of World Heritage in Danger is identified. These include a wide variety of specific actions intended to address the general problems identified earlier, including improvements in the areas of legislation, site delineation, development of master plans, strengthening of the Department of Archaeology, documentation, demolition control, and conservation practice. A complete list of these concerns is given on pp 26-28 of the review mission report.

Conclusions

The Bureau may wish to consider the following points in examining possible actions:

1.   In regard to placing the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger, the site is clearly in danger, in the opinion of ICOMOS, under the impact of out-of-control development pressures and given the limited resources and authority of the Department of Archaeology. The values for which the site was inscribed have diminished since inscription.

Although the Nepalese authorities have taken significant steps in the past eighteen months (including improvements to the legislation and strengthening of municipal involvement in protection), losses are continuing. A recent report by review mission member David Michehnore documenting losses in May 1994 at the Bauddhanath site demonstrates the continuing fragility of the inscribed site's heritage values.

2.   So far as the response of the Nepalese authorities to the recommendations of the review mission is concerned, it is clear from previous discussions that there are at least three points of contention which might be obstacles to their agreement to the inscription of the Kathmandu Valley on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

  • the boundaries of the monument zones inscribed by the Committee in 1979 do not in most cases correspond with the boundaries designated by the Nepalese Government and used in day-to-day practice.
  • the Nepalese Government's interpretation of the inscription is that only inventoried monuments within the monument zones figure in the inscription, not the many historical residences or other buildings which surround the listed monuments. ICOMOS, however, conceives the inscribed monument zone to include ail standing structures and spaces, and believes it to be important to respect the contributions of all elements to the whole.
  • the possible negative impact in Nepal of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

3.   In conjunction with any examination of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, it is important that the Committee and its partners examine ways to strengthen the Department of Archaeology within the Government of Nepal.

Strong efforts must be focused here in order to begin to alter the pessimistic climate which currently surrounds conservation discussions in the Kathmandu Valley.

4.   Whilst the review mission report provides numerous specific instances of demolition, abandoned buildings, unauthorized intrusive development, and technically unsound conservation work, it does not present a complete inventory of the locations of all such examples. The Bureau might wish to encourage a study to provide a complete picture of site conditions.

In summary, ICOMOS believes that the Bureau's thinking on this site is best guided by asking what combinations of actions would best aid improvement of the conditions for conservation.

ICOMOS has been discussing with the Nepalese authorities the possibility of organizing a seminar for conservation professionals working in Nepal to raise consciousness of conservation practices and technologies appropriate for the country. This is seen as a small step towards improving the climate for conservation in Nepal.

It is hoped that a seminar can be organized in relation to the planned meeting of the UNESCO Campaign Committee for the Kathmandu Valley, and these meetings can provide opportunities for constructive discussions with the Nepalese authorities in the Department of Archaeology concerning the issues raised in this note and in the report of the review mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1994

Following a debate on the possible inscription of the Kathmandu Valley on the List of World Heritage in Danger and the delisting of certain parts of the site damaged by uncontrolled development, the Bureau at its eighteenth session in July 1994, recommended an overall evaluation with the view of redefining the monument zones of the site. The Bureau took note of the findings of the November 1993 UNESCO/ICOMOS Review Mission which inter alia recommended the delisting of deteriorated sections of the Kathmandu Darbar Square and Bauddhanath monuments zones and the extension of the monument zones of Swayambunath, Patan and Bhaktapur. The mission also noted that the Hindu shrine of Pashupati, although part of the World Heritage site had never been gazetted as a protected monument area under Nepali law.

The Nepali National Commission for UNESCO by letter of 21 July 1994, informed the World Heritage Centre of the progress made by the authorities in responding to the 16-point recommendation of the UNESCO/ICOMOS mission. Actions reported include: approval by the Government of the redefinition of the boundary of Swayambunath and publication of this in the Nepal Gazette; reconsideration of the boundaries of Patan and the Pashupati Monument Zone with preparations of new maps underway by the Department of Archaeology and the Pashupati Development Trust; initiation of the preparation of detailed inventory of Kathmandu, Swayambunath, Bauda and Patan; revision in the demolition permit system, making prior approval by the Department of Archaeology obligatory; removal of commercial advertisement panels from the monument zones and the museum building of Swayambunath.

At the time of writing, a Nepal/ICOMOS/UNESCO strategy meeting to prepare an assistance package to support the Nepali authorities' efforts to protect and maintain the World Heritage value of the site was being planned for mid-November 1994, immediately following the International Campaign Review Meeting.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1994
18 COM IX
SOC: Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)

Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)

The Secretariat recalled the concern raised over the state of conservation of the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage site and the debate during the seventeenth session of the Committee in December 1993 and the Bureau at its eighteenth session in July 1994 on the possible inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger and the delisting of certain parts of the site damaged by uncontrolled development. The 16-point recommendation of the UNESCO/ICOMOS Review Mission of November 1993 and the pledge made by' the Representative of His Majesty's Government at the seventeenth session of the Committee to follow-up on these recommendations were also recalled.

The Committee was presented with a monitoring report prepared by the Department of Archaeology on progress made in the follow-up activities. In the absence of the Nepali Representative, the Secretariat summarized the main points of this report.

Actions reported include:

  • adoption of revised byelaws which came into effect in February 1994 requiring prior permit for any demolition within the core area of the city;
  • submission to Parliament of the proposed Fifth Amendment of the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act strengthening the enforcement mechanism of design and development control within the World Heritage protected zones which could not be passed due to the dissolution of the Parliament;
  • approval by the Government of the redefined boundary of Swayambunath and publication of this in the Nepal Gazette;
  • completion of a map of the revised boundary of Patan Darbar Square checked on the ground, house-by-house, and agreed upon with the Municipality and other relevant bodies which is to be gazetted in the near future;
  • completion of maps of the revised boundaries of the five other monument zones as recommended by the UNESCO/ICOMOS mission which will soon be verified through ground survey;
  • completion of the inventories of public and religious monuments in Patan Darbar Square, Pashupati and Bauddhanath;
  • publication of information pamphlets on the seven World Heritage monument zones containing general information on conservation norms, particularly the ban since July 1994 of the use of cement mortar in the repair of monuments;
  • initiation of computerized documentation and manual recording of monuments zones;
  • removal of commercial advertisement panels from the monument zones and the museum building of Swayambunath.

The Secretariat also reported on the Nepal/UNESCO/ICOMOS strategy meeting held in mid-November 1994 immediately following the Kathmandu Valley International Campaign Review Meeting and drew the attention of the Committee to the action plan to be coordinated by an inter-ministerial task force which the representatives of the various ministries to the strategy meeting agreed to establish. This action plan contained in the monitoring report includes, inter alia, the development and publication of guidelines on building and conservation practice with graphic illustrations and establishment of a development control unit in the Department of Archaeology to work closely with the municipalities and town development committees.

The Committee, having noted the efforts being made by the Nepali authorities to rectify the damage caused to the Kathmandu Valley, requests UNESCO to support the Government of Nepal in strengthening the mechanism of coordination of all international conservation activities, whether bilateral or multilateral, especially with regard to the method of conservation to be applied. The Committee also calls upon the Government of Nepal to take into consideration, the recommendations made by the joint UNESCO/ICOMOS mission of November 1993 in ensuring the protection of the World Heritage site from uncontrolled development, especially by adopting a more stringent policy in the granting of demolition and construction permits and other landuse authorization in both the core area and the buffer zone. Recognizing the limited national resources in carrying out the variety of required activities, the Committee requests UNESCO to assist the Nepali authorities in preparing a package of projects to seek international donor support including the documentation of the World Heritage site, to be undertaken as a priority. In this connection, the Committee discussed the advantages of the Kathmandu Valley being put on the List of World Heritage in Danger to draw the priority attention of the international community and urged the Government of Nepal to reconsider this option.

18 EXT.BUR V.B.2.1
Examination of requests for International Assistance - Cultural Heritage - Requests for which the Bureau formulated a recommendation to the Committee - Technical cooperation

1. Old City of Dubrovnik (Croatia) - US$50,000

The Bureau recommended the approval of the full requested amount of US50,000 for, inter alia, the purchase of equipment for the documentation centre; expertise for the development of a tourism development plan; promotional and educational material and activities on World Heritage in Dubrovnik.

2. Wielizska Salt Mine (Poland) - US$100,000

The Bureau recommended, after considerable debate, the approval by the Committee of this request for US$100,000 to purchase the dehumidifying equipment required for the preservation of the salt sculptures of this World Heritage Site in Danger.

3. Kathmandu Valley (Nepal) - US$52,000

The Bureau recommended approval by the Committee of the requested US$52,000 for the deployment of a UNESCO international technical advisor for 6 months in view of the serious and urgent need for strengthen measures to redress the present state of conservation of the Kathmandu Valley.

4. The Complex of the Hue Monuments (Vietnam) (Upgrading of the Hue Conservation Laboratory) - US$108,000

The Bureau recommended the approval of the amount of US$108,000 to meet the cost of laboratory equipment purchase (US$72,700) and related short-term training to enable the Hue authorities to have the basic facilities to overcome the present obstacles to conservation. The World Heritage Centre should, however, be consulted on the list of equipment, and approve the detailed specification and cost estimate, as well as the selection of the international experts.

5. Historic Areas of Istanbul (Turkey) (Restoration of the mosaics of Hagia-Sophia) - US$80,000

The Bureau recommended approval by the Committee of an amount of US$80,000 to complete the final phase of this restoration project.

18 BUR VI.B
Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)

The current state of the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage site had been the cause of apprehension since 1992 and had already appeared on the agenda of a number of meetings of the Bureau and of the World Heritage Committee. The Bureau was informed of the conclusions of the joint UNESCO/ICOMOS Review Mission of 14-30 November 1993, which had recommended that the site be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger and returned to the World Heritage List within a period of one to three years, after sixteen specific matters of concern had been met. It was explained that the World Heritage site consists of seven distinct monument zones, three of them urban, centered round the palaces of the cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, and the remainder, two Buddhist and two Hindu shrines, which had formerly been in rural surroundings. The mission report had recommended the effective delisting of parts of the Kathmandu Darbar Square and Bauddhanath monument zones, following a general failure to control development, but an extension of the monument zones of Swayambunath, Patan and particularly Bhaktapur, which was now the only Newari city to retain its overall traditional character. It was pointed out that the Hindu shrine of Pashupati, although part of the World Heritage site, had never been afforded the protection of being gazetted as a protected' monument area in Nepalese law.

The mission report illustrated examples of demolition, encroachment, traffic pressure, the unsympathetic introduction of modern services and conservation practices which did not conform to accepted international standards. UNESCO had undertaken a number of initiatives, including plans for technical training and an advisory mission on amendments to the Nepalese Ancient Monuments Preservation Act. ICOMOS had plans for a professional seminar in October 1994.

The Representative of Thailand stated that it was important to judge the degree to which the site had deteriorated and whether it was now worthy of being included in the World Heritage List. The Nepalese State Party should be made aware of the Bureau's concerns and informed that, if the situation was not remedied, steps to delist the site would be initiated. He suggested that, rather than delisting part of the monument zones, that the State Party should be asked to redefine the areas which constitute the World Heritage site. The Representative of the United States concurred in these sentiments. The German Observer highlighted the importance of concentrating efforts on the core areas, where the best results could be achieved, rather than on peripheral areas which might still be part of the monument zones but in which traditional buildings had since been demolished and replaced with concrete-framed structures.

ICOMOS argued that the matter was an extremely delicate one, which could be approached from a number of standpoints. It would be possible to suggest that in the spirit of the World Heritage Convention, the site should be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, but Nepalese opposition to such a move might make it self-defeating. He emphasized that it was important to do what was best for the site, which should be in cooperation with the Nepalese authorities to try and resolve outstanding difficulties. The Representative of Senegal also proposed a new approach which would enable the Nepalese to be more protective towards the World Heritage Site and argued that the State Party should be made fully aware of the Bureau's concerns with regard to violations of the articles of the World Heritage Convention.

The Director of the Centre endorsed the idea of redefinition of the monument zones but proposed that, rather than the site being placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, it would be more constructive if a package of assistance to the Nepalese could be developed which would enable them to act as more effective guardians of the World Heritage site in cooperation with UNESCO and other relevant agencies. He would be contacting his colleagues in the Division of Physical Heritage to develop more concrete proposals.

The Chairperson summarized the discussion, to the effect that a letter should be sent to the State Party expressing the Bureau's deep concern about the state of the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage site. The Bureau recommends to the Committee to envisage partial delisting and redefinition of the part still intact and qualifying as World Heritage, which should be placed on the List of World in Danger to bring particular attention to the need to avoid further deterioration. At the same time, UNESCO is asked to work out an international assistance project.

18 COM XII.3
Requests for International Assistance: Technical Cooperation - Cultural heritage

The Committee noted that the Bureau in examining the ten technical cooperation requests for cultural properties, two submitted by ICCROM and eight by States Parties, gave priority to activities for properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger and to those having a catalytic affect rather than for the funding of specific restoration works, in accordance with previous decisions taken by the Committee.

Reauests approved by the Bureau:

  1. The Historic Town of Ouro Preto (Brazil) - US$20,000
    The Bureau approved US$20,000 out of the total amount of US$50,000, subject to obtaining assurance that the balance of US$30,000 for the construction of five houses for the relocation of the affected inhabitants is funded by other sources.
  2. ICCROM Technical Assistance - US$25,000
    The Bureau approved this financial support to the ICCROM Technical Assistance Programme to supply institutions of State Parties, free of charge, with basic documentation, scientific and didactic equipment and conservation products.
  3. Printing of Management Guidelines for World Cultural Heritage Sites, by B.M. Feilden and J. Jokilehto - US$6,900
    The Bureau approved this request to support the printing cost of the French-language edition of this publication if other sources, notably of the Fra-ncophone community cannot be identified.

Requests approved by the Committee:

The Committee approved the following requests on the basis of the recommendations of the Bureau:

  1. Old City of Dubrovnik (Croatia) - US$50,000
    The Committee approved the full requested amount of US$ 50,000 for, inter alia, the purchase of equipment for the documentation centre; expertise for the development of a tourism development plan; promotional and educational material and activities on World Heritage in Dubrovnik.
  2. Wieliczka Salt Mine (Poland) - US$100,000
    The Committee approved this request for US$100,000 to purchase the dehumidifying equipment required for the preservation of the salt sculptures of this World Heritage Site in Danger.
  3. Kathmandu Valley (Nepal) - US$52,000
    The Committee approved the requested US$ 52,000 for the deployment of a UNESCO international technical advisor for 6 months in view of the serious and urgent need for strengthen measures to redress the present state of conservation of the Kathmandu Valley.
  4. The Complex of the Hue Monuments (Vietnam) - US$108,000
    (Upgrading of the Hue Conservation Laboratory)
    The Committee approved the amount of US$108,000 to meet the cost of laboratory equipment purchase (US$ 72,700) and related short-term training to enable the Hue authorities to have the basic facilities to overcome the present obstacles to conservation. The World Heritage Centre should, however, be consulted on the list of equipment, and approve the detailed specification and cost estimate; as well as the selection of the international experts.
  5. Historic Areas of Istanbul (Turkey) - US$80,000
    (Restoration of the mosaics of Hagia-Sophia)
    The Committee approved an amount of $80,000 to complete the final phase of this restoration project.

Requests not approved by the Committee:

  1. Ngorongoro Conservation Area (United Republic of Tanzania)
    (International Conference on Ngorongoro, in Bellagio, Italy)
    The Committee endorsed the Bureau's view not to approve this request although the value of the proposed international conference in Italy for the Tanzanian conservators is recognized, and in view of the fact that other funding sources are available for this Conference at the Rockefeller Foundation in Italy.
  2. Palmyra (Syrian Arab Republic)
    The Committee did not approve this request for US$90,000 but suggested that the Syrian authorities submit an alternative request to prepare a global and coherent conservation programme for this site in accordance with the recommendations of the UNESCO expert mission which took place in December 1993.

The Committee may wish to adopt the following:

The Committee, having noted the efforts being made by the Nepali authorities to rectify the damage caused to the Kathmandu Valley, requests UNESCO to support the Government of Nepal in strengthening the mechanism of coordination of all international conservation activities, whether bilateral or multilateral, especially with regard to the method of conservation to be applied. The Committee also calls upon the Government of Nepal to take into consideration, the recommendations made by the joint UNESCO/ICOMOS mission of November 1993 in ensuring the protection of the World Heritage Site from uncontrolled development, especially by adopting a more stringent policy in the granting of demolition and construction permits and other land use authorization in both the core area and the buffer zone. Recognizing the limited national resources in carrying out the variety of required activities, the Committee requests UNESCO to assist the Nepali authorities in preparing a package of projects to seek international donor support including the documentation of the World Heritage Site, to be undertaken as a priority. In this connection, the Committee discussed the advantages of the Kathmandu Valley being put on the List of World Heritage in Danger to draw priority attention of the international community and urged the Government of Nepal to reconsider this option.

Report year: 1994
Nepal
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(vi)
Danger List (dates): 2003-2007
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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