Insincere contractor puts Dharahara construction in limbo

  • September 4, 2019

“The contractor assigned to construct Dharahara has completed the construction of the fourth floor of his own building by using labourers and equipment mobilised for the construction of Dharahara”, Nepal’s National News Agency has reported.

As per the report, 10th floor of the historic building should have been completed by August, however no significant progress has been made.

Reconstruction of the tower had begun on October 7 last year after Nepal-China joint venture companies won the contract for reconstruction of the iconic tower at Rs 3.45 billion. The much-awaited project has been delayed by nine months due to the contractor, said Raju Man Manandhar, an expert of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA).  Sharing the negligence on the part of the contractor, Manandhar said that RAMAN Contractor Company has completed its four-storey building in Baluwatar by using the labourers and equipment of the Dharahara reconstruction project.

This is a joint venture project, but only RAMAN Contractor Company has been working in the site. The Chinese company GIETC has not come to the site, he said.  When asked about the rumor and dissatisfaction among the locals about new Dharahara, he said, “This time we are building a strong new Dharahara using modern technology.”  The old Dharahara was damaged thrice earlier. It’s time to build an earthquake-resilient structure after learning a lesson from the previous earthquakes.

Locals have been raising voice against new Dharahara demanding that it should be built following the traditional methods and materials.  “History shows that Dharahara was damaged three times. Again how can we build Dharahara on a weak foundation? We know that a large number of people were killed when it collapsed in the 2015 earthquake,” he asked.

The new structure will be earthquake-resilient, he added. As per the norms and standards of the UNESCO, if the damaged structure is built in the origin place, it should be reconstructed using the traditional materials which were used previously in the damaged structure. But the NRA has been reconstructing present structure away from the ruins of the earlier tower and it does not violate the norms and standards of UNESCO, he said.

According to him, the new Dharahara will be the first model structure in Nepal, he said. The height of new Dharahara is 79.2 metres including the dome and pinnacle parts.

To construct the basement of the tower, 208 piles were dug and filled it by contract materials and iron below the basement circle. Gradients measuring 3.6 metres and 2 metres were applied in two different stages in the basement.

Expressing his dissatisfaction over the working process of the contractor, Manandhar said that authority had provided sufficient space to build the tower structure but the company did no work in tower section earlier.
The project will cover an area of 22 ropanis of lands. The NRA has acquired around 15 ropanis of land of the General Post Office and additional three ropanis of Sundhara. Demolishing process of General Post Office has begun from Sunday.

During a meeting with the NRA, the contractor demanded a new working schedule of construction claiming a loss of 175 days. “We will decide about the demand of contractor after discussion,” he said. The deadline to complete the construction of the new Dharhara expires on October 7, 2020.

The 18-storey tower was built by the first prime minister of Nepal Bhimsen Thapa in 1825. The tower was destroyed in the earthquake of 1934.