Sunday, 3 March, 2024

Save Tundikhel

Kathmandu, an ancient city, has been endowed with all charms of Nature. It has been surrounded by fairly tall green hills from all sides, with mild temperature and fertile land. Different empires of world had tried to take control of the historic city and make it the centre of their rule. But Kathmandu managed to survive all odds and adversities, preserving its beauty and integrity through millennia. Ironically, it began to lose its splendid topographic edifice as it stretched towards modernity. Postmodernism marks an era of greater consciousness and enlightenment, but the growing knowledge and progress has done little to conserve the essence of the city. Myopic attitude, haphazard urbanisation drive and petty commercial interest has marred its glory and grandeur.

One conspicuous deficiency of the capital city is the shrinking public space essential to physical, social and recreational life of its dwellers. Open spaces, parks and gardens serve as the lung, enabling the people to breathe clean air. Not only this, they provide shelter to the denizens at the time of natural disasters. For example, Tundikhel, the open air theatre, located at the heart of the city, was used as the place of evacuation and temporary settlement for the people affected by the 2015 earthquake. Moreover, open spaces symbolise human freedom and liberty as conscious masses assemble there to articulate their aspirations and trigger revolutions.

Tundikhel is Kathmandu’s famous landmark steeped in myths, folklores and politics. It was once one of the largest parade grounds in Asia, extending about 5 km in length from Rani Pokhari to Dasarath Rangasala. Sadly it is being victimised by senseless human behaviour. It has been encroached to an extent that it risks total disappearance. Increasing concrete structures from all sides are squeezing it rapidly, thanks to freewheeling builders, vendors and motorists that are brazenly occupying it, flouting rules and dismaying the citizens. It has been reduced into a site for illegal structures, construction materials, parking lots, garbage dumping and haven for drug addicts and miscreants. The elected officials seem either indifferent or are in collusion with thugs to abuse the public property to their personal benefits.

When enough is enough, the awakened citizens have come to the streets to save Tundikhel. According to a news report carried out by this daily, heritage conservation activists have launched Occupy Tundikhel campaign on Saturday to free the exclusive space from all prevalent mess and infringement. They gathered at the Open Stadium and formed a human chain around the Tundikhel to press the concerned officials to restore it to its original shape. This is a matter of happiness that diverse civil organisations, media persons and commoners came out for the common cause of making the capital a place for healthy living. The drive will continue every Saturday for three months to highlight the importance of open Tundikhel.

Occupy Tundikhel campaign is a spontaneous movement that should be taken positively by those responsible to manage the historic ground. The bid is a clarion call which the government with sweeping mandate and power must listen to. This also offers opportunity to the elected representatives from local to federal level to prove their mettle by meeting the demands of the people fighting for the wellbeing of the entire society.