Government is planning to demolish the facade of Singha Durbar before restoring it to its original form. The front portion of the main complex of Singha Durbar, built by Rana regime in 1903, suffered severe damage in the April 25 earthquake.
Singha Durbar Secretariat Reconstruction Committee, which is under Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), is planning to dismantle the front face of the building that housed Defense Ministry, and restore it to its original shape.
“We decided to pull down the structure and then bring it back to its original form all over again as retrofitting seemed costlier and less durable,” said Ram Prasad Belbase, an administrative officer at the reconstruction committee.
He said that a majority of officers and experts in the committee were in favor of reconstructing the historical structure, which also houses the State Hall, also known as Belayati Baithak.
“Retrofitting the structure may not necessarily ensure safety of officials during disaster like earthquake and fire,” added he.
“The back portion of the historical palace has not sustained major damage compared to its front portion. So we can just repair the back portion,” said he.
He said that even though the technical team from Urban Ministry found the back portion of the structure safe and usable, officials at the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Planning Commission refused to work from there.
Meanwhile, the Department of Archeology (DoA) has urged the reconstruction committee not to demolish the facade but renovate it using traditional methods
“Reconstruction would deform the original historical art,” said Ram Bahadur Kuwar, spokesperson at the DoA. “We will press the committee to retain the building’s original design even if the authorities want to demolish and reconstruct it.”
The then Prime Minister Chandra Sumsher Rana built Singha Durbar in 1903 as his residence. It was designed in neo-classical design. The palace had over 1000 rooms arranged around seven quadrangles and was among the largest buildings in South Asia. The front wing of the palace was destroyed by fire in 1973.