border review | 28 July 2011

Dixit on the Lumbini project

In the second part of his pieceBetween sycophancy & adventurism for Republica, Dixit raises key qeustions about the Chinese Lumbini project that was announced ten days ago:

Why is the industrial development arm of the UN involved rather than UNESCO, the designated agency to oversee Lumbini as a World Heritage Site? Why are all the relevant ministries of the Government of Nepal as well as the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) clueless about the memorandum? Is there a whiff of extra-territoriality when two alien entities sign a document in Beijing without official Nepali participation? All in all, why was the project so secretive, not consulting the key stakeholders in Kathmandu and Kapilvastu?

How deeply are the Chinese Government and the Communist Party of China involved with the APECEF proposal, or is this a renegade operation? The project document lists an entity of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce as the ‘government co-ordinating agency’. With Lumbini’s heritage sites less than 4 km from the Indian border at its closest, does the project hold out the danger of raising a reaction from India and triggering geopolitical competition that would harm Nepali interests? Is all the secretiveness precisely to take advantage of a transitional moment in Nepal when all political structures are in disarray, for the sake of a commercial killing and geopolitical encroachment?

None of these questions may be warranted, but for that the Nepali public needs clarifications from Chairman Dahal, the Chinese Government, the Government of Nepal and the LDT. The UNIDO Headquarters in Vienna and the UN Secretariat in New York may also educate us.

Lets see whether anybody is willing to come forward with an explanation. I am not sure how much substance there really is behind this plan.