KATHMANDU, NEPAL, August 1,2013 (Malay Mail Oline): The UN's cultural body has voiced alarm at the building of a giant crematorium within a fabled temple complex in Nepal, worried it will become an eyesore at one of the world's holiest Hindu sites.
Pashupatinath, a temple complex which sprawls over a 2.6 square-kilometer area near Kathmandu on the banks of the Bagmati river, attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims every year from neighboring India. Parts of the complex date back to the early fifth century and it was awarded World Heritage Site status in 1979 by UNESCO, putting it on a par with structures such as India's Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.
But now UNESCO has pleaded with temple authorities to rethink plans for the construction of a mass electronic crematorium as well as ongoing work to build a road which cuts through the site, fearing irreparable damage.
The organisation's country chief, Axel Plathe, confirmed to AFP that the projects were "a concern for UNESCO" and had asked them to come up with an alternative. "Construction began without proper authorization from the competent Nepali authorities as per the established integrated management plan for the property," Plathe added. In particular, UNESCO is unhappy at the construction of a two-story building which will house three separate crematoriums.
While defenders of the project say it is more environmentally-friendly than burning bodies on the river banks (as now done), Plathe said no assessment study had been conducted and warned that a giant chimney at the top of the building "will have an adverse visual impact."