SAVE BASUNDHARA, SAVE POKHARA

No compromise against the existence of Basundhara Park and Rani Ban can be made: say 11 CA members vociferously

By KESHAV PATHAK FOR THE ROAMING POST

Basundhara Park is the cynosure of all eyes. Being located beside majestic Fewa Lake its beauty is simply unsurpassable. The park has provided enough space that is used for various purposes. Many local denizens including foreigners regularly visit this park to relax as there is enough space to amble around. Almost regularly some programmes like exhibitions and concerts are organized at Basundhara Park.  In 1977 the local government had encroached about 108 ropani land to develop Basundhara Park.

However, the existence of Basundhara Park has come at risk as Pokhara Valley City Development Committee is going to give Basundhara Park on lease for 20 years to Manakamana Darshan Pvt.Ltd. Manakamana Darshan Company wants to set up a cable car station at Basundhara Park. The Pokhareli people as a whole have found the deal is inappropriate, irrelevant and self destructive.

The land was encroached with the purpose of conservation of Fewa Lake and also making a green belt around the lake in 1977, but now City Development Committee wants to give the land to Manakamana Darshan to establish a cable car station. The original plan is to extend cable car through Fewa Lake and Rani Ban to Shanti Stupa. Meanwhile, the Pokhareli people have registered strong disagreement with the local authority. Their main objection is City Development Committee has no rights to give a public property to a private company.

Now Pokhareli people have formed Basundhara Park Protest Committee (BPC). The committee has resorted to wage protest campaign against the decision of City Development Committee, which wants to lease Basundhara Park to Manakamana Darshan.

Speaking with the reporters Ramesh Bahadur Bhattarai, advisor of the BPC said “The land was initially encroached for the purpose of developing Basundhara Park. Hence, the land cannot be used for any purpose other than the park. If City Development Committee gives this land to a private company for any purposes it will be deemed as violation of law and Pokhareli people will not keep quiet”.

“According to city development Act 2045 no public land can be given to any private organization without public hearing. The land of Basundhara Park has been planned to give to Manakamana Darshan without public hearing…this process is against the law” said Basudev Tripathi, a prominent tourism entrepreneur. “Establishing a cable car in Basundhara Park will completely destroy natural environment of the area for sure” he added.

The proposed cable car project is directly associated with Basundhara park and Rani Ban. It is sure that if the project has to go forward it requires cutting several trees of Rani Ban. Destruction of so many trees will definitely have negative effect on Rani Ban. This will certainly disturb flora and fauna of Rani Ban and its surrounding areas as well.

“The original plan is to take cable car to the top of Shanti Stupa. But the question is how safe is to take cable car to Shanti Stupa; because very recently a big landslide did occur near Shanti Stupa. In this situation would it be a good idea to take cable car there?” asked Som Thapa, president of Nepal Tourism Council (NTC).

Sooner or later Pokhara is going to have an international airport. If so the city needs more open space for various development purposes. There is also programme to develop Pokhara as a green city. This has also been mentioned in the present budget. To develop green city there required more open space in the valley.  “Basundhara Park and Rani Ban are national treasure and they must be protected at any cost” said Giriraj Adhikari, coordinator of Save Basundhara Park Committee (SBC). “We are not against the modern development which promotes tourism. We simply want that Manakamana Darshan Company should look for alternative place to set up cable car station. We will never allow polluting and destroying Basundhara Park. If Manakamana Darshan Company doesn’t change its stance, it will only invite a serious confrontation” warned Adhikari.

The other day Save Basundhara Park Committee (SBC) did organize a get together programme with 11 Constitutional Assembly representatives in Pokhara. Rabindra Adhikari, chairman of Development Committee, said “A cable car will no doubt boost local tourism in Pokhara but not at the cost of destroying natural treasure of Pokhara. There will be new law regarding to the use of land so any decision of this kind should be terminated without further delay. We will never allow any cable car across Fewa Lake”.

Yaga Bahadur Thapa, CA member said “Previous contract done for the use of Basundhara Park and Rani Ban should be revoked because no compromise can be made against Basundhara Park and Rani Ban. We all 11 CA members unanimously declare that we are against the use of Basundhara Park and Rani Ban for cable car purpose. However, an alternative place should be searched which should not damage Basundhara Park, Fewa lake or Rani Ban”.

Sharada Paudel and Sita Giri CA members said “Basundhara Park is the only available open space in Pokhara, which can be used in emergency cases one like recently occurred earthquake. Such open space can be used for various purposes. Hence, any idea to occupy the park must be stopped”.

As soon as the matter of giving Basundhara Park to Manakamana Darshan Company came to light, Pokhareli people took cudgel in their hands and are now ready to face a possible confrontation head on. Pokhareli people will never allow destroying natural beauty of Basundhara Park and Rani Ban. Fewa Lake is rich in natural diversity whereas Rani Ban, Basundhara Park, Komagane Park, Hima Griha, Ratna Mandir, Barahi Mandir, and Camping site are the places of main tourists’ attraction. Any step that disturbs ecological and natural system of the valley must be discouraged. Efforts should be made to establish Pokhara as an international tourist destination instead.

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