Nepal commits to heritage protection by establishing the process of Heritage Impact Assessment
Heritage conservation experts including archaeologists, architects, environmental experts, site managers of monument zones of the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage property, officials from the Department of Archaeology (DoA), representatives from ICOMOS Nepal and UNESCO met in Kathmandu last week to discuss the procedures and format of the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) in Nepal.
The DoA organized the workshop after the UNESCO World Heritage Committee urged Nepal to strengthen development control including the HIA regulations for any major scheme of development, conservation or reconstruction proposals within the World Heritage Property. It concerns Nepal's two cultural properties, the Kathmandu Valley and Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
“The detailed information including the independently prepared assessment should be sent to UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre timely, preferably at the concept stage and before irreversible commitments are made for review by the Advisory Bodies”, states the World Heritage Committee Decision taken at its 37th session in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh last year (Decision 37 COM 7B.65).
Heritage and archaeological sites are at constant threat due to increasing development activities carried out without proper planning and assessment. The three examples of HIA so far undertaken in Nepal, crematorium at Pashupati, Tourism in Lumbini and proposed bus park and walkway in Tilaurakot, were presented at the workshop.
Participants worked in groups and gathered initial ideas on how to define the requirement of HIA, the possible content and format along with a draft process. The DoA has planned to form a committee to work on the drafts and necessary undertakings to adopt appropriate legal and institutional framework.
UNESCO is encouraged by the DoA’s timely effort and recognition of HIA’s effectiveness to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage properties and stands ready to assist the DoA as a member of the committee for the establishment of HIA process in Nepal.
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