Private house goes up at Lichhavi archeological site

Private house goes up at Lichhavi archeological site

It has been just one year since a team from the Department of Archeology (DoA) unearthed some inscriptions of Amsuverma, the Lichhavi dynasty king, during excavations at Mahankal of Baulwa VDC, Gokarna, showing that his rajbihar or royal retreat was located at that spot. However, the DoA diggings have been rendered useless as a local has now built a house over the site.

The excavation was started in June last year in the belief that it could be the site of Amsuverma’s rajbihar, and some strong evidence such as a brick wall and other structures were also found.

DoA initiated the excavations with the help of a 1,400 year old stone inscription found in 1989 during the construction of a house at the same spot. The stone inscription made it easy for them to identify the place.

Along with the inscription, an idol of Mahankal, some pots and a few other items were also found at the site. Diggings were then carried out at four points.
But now Yandi Sherpa, a local, has carried out construction work on a house covering half the excavated site and this has been done without any permission from DoA.

“This is ridiculous. They should have informed us or the VDC before the construction. No one is allowed to construct anything in an archeological site. That is the law,” said Prakash Darnal, a senior archeologist who had participated in the excavation as a representative of DoA.

According to Darnal, the construction has destroyed an important finding of the Lichhavi period which could have helped archeologists make other findings as well.

DoA had notified the VDC through a letter not to give permission to anyone to construct anything at the excavated site.

“DoA is also responsible as the authority concerned and it should monitor the site. Similarly, the Baluwa VDC office is also equally responsible. DoA had duly notified it in writing to protect and monitor the place,” said Darnal.

While DoA has been blaming Baluwa VDC, the VDC officials say it is DoA that is the authority concerned and it should protect the site rather than blame them.

“The house builder did not inform us about the construction. We came to know about it through other locals. Soon after we learnt about it, we informed DoA as that is the responsible authority,” said Keshav Panta, secretary of Baluwa VDC.

“We cannot stop anyone from constructing a house on their personal property and neither do we have any written instruction from the ministry concerned,” added Panta. “We fulfilled our duty by informing DoA about the construction. That office should have taken the initiative to stop the construction right there and then.”

Half the house construction, which started three months ago, has already been completed.

Although DoA informed the owner of the property about the archeological issue and asked him to stop contruction, he has not complied to date.

While the VDC faces difficulty in stopping the construction or punishing the owner, the law does not give anyone the right to build over an archeological site.
“We are trying to stop further construction work on the house,” said Darnal. “The house will be destroyed and the government should compensate the owner.”

According to him, there are several other archeological sites that have been covered over by houses built by members of the public.