“KOICA will prepare a plan for developing Lumbini as city of peace keeping in mind the cultural,

KATHMANDU, Nov 5: Amid the search for more international assistance for the development of Lumbini, the South Korean government has come forward with a proposal to developing Lumbini as a “city of peace”.

The proposal took concerete shape Friday after the Ministry of Culture accepted the Korean offer to prepare a plan and develop Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, as a city of peace. As per the plan, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Korean aid agency, will fund US$
2 million to draw the plan.

“KOICA will prepare a plan for developing Lumbini as city of peace keeping in mind the cultural, environmental and archeological aspects of Lumbini,” said an official at the Ministry of Culture on the Korean proposal, requesting anonymity.

The proposed project will focus outside the area covered by the Master Plan prepared by Japanese Prof. Kenzo Tange, a noted architect, in 1978. Tange had prepared the plan at the request of the United Nations, which has shown interest in the development of Lumbini from as early as 1970s. The Master Plan covers 1.3 square miles, expanding one mile east-west and three miles north-south, covering 770 hectares.

Knowledgeable government sources said they believe that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is a Korean national, has indirect support to the two million dollar project. According to sources, Ban has keen interest in the development of the birthplace of the Budhha.

The Korean proposal took final shape after rounds of talks between officials from the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance, and KOICA officials. Secretary at the Ministry of Culture Dinesh Hari Adhikari and KOICA´s country representative signed a “record of discussion” on the project, paving way for finalizing a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Finance and KOICA. The signing ceremony of the memorandum of understanding has been scheduled for November 12.
As per the understanding, KoICA will start developing the plan from January 12 with an aim to complete the work within 18 months.

Coincidently, the Ministry of Culture accepted the proposal four days before a team led by Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who heads a government-formed directorate on development of Lumbini, leaves for New York to seek international support for the development of the birthplace of the Buddha. Dahal, former minister of culture Dr Minendra Rijal and banker Manoj Bahadur Shrestha, a banker, are heading for New York next week. The delegation is due to meet the UN Secretary-General.by KIRAN CHAPAGAIN from republica

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