In what has been dubbed as a move to protect heritage sites, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) is all set to reintroduce a ban on vehicular movement inside the historical Basantapur Durbar Square from November 1.
However, locals say the ban, as in the past, will not last long as the authorities are simply attempting to impose it without making alternative vehicle parking arrangement.
In 2010, the KMC had declared that no vehicles would be permitted except for emergency vehicles like ambulances inside the Durbar Square, which has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage site.
But the ban soon became ineffective after the KMC could not manage alternative routes for the vehicles owned by the locals and parking space for visitors to the Durbar Square area and Metropolitan Police Range Office (MPRO) inside the heritage area.
“It is really good that the municipal authority is planning to prohibit vehicular movement in the heritage site. But they are repeating the same mistake as in the past because they have not made arrangement for parking space before imposing the ban,” said Ganapati Lal Shrestha, a local who is also a member of a locals´ struggle committee formed a year ago to mount pressure on KMC to protect the heritage site.
He said the KMC officials were not serious toward implementing the ban effectively in the past. “Parking lots outside the Basantapur area are always packed. This is also a reason why many people park their vehicles inside the heritage site,” added he.
Hari Kumar Shrestha, chief of Basantapur Durbar Area Conservation Program under the KMC, however, claimed that the ban will be effectively enforced this time. “We will not allow vehicles inside Durbar square area at any cost from November. Any vehicle entering the restricted zone will be fined up to Rs 1,000,” he said.
Dhan Bahadur Shrestha, chief of the KMC, however, said that the KMC is looking for alternative parking spaces to make the ban effective and sustainable. “Otherwise, the ban will indeed be ineffective. Locals are ready to support us. We will impose ban and gradually work to manage parking facilities,” added he.