border review | 30 July 2011

Government rebuffs China - Hindustan Times

Two weeks ago we learned about plans by the Chinese foundation APECF to turn Lumbini, Buddha’s birthplace, into a “special development zone”. The USD 3 billion scheme, inspired by Mecca, seemed to have the backing of the UN Industrial and Development Organization as well as Nepal’s Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda,  who is allegedly a co-chairman of the Chinese foundation (previous entries here and here). However, the announcement turns out to be much more of a stunt than it originally seemed like. Utpal Parashar (Hindustan Times) quotes Nepal’s culture secretary Mod Raj Dotel: “Since the deal was struck between two organizations, which have no relation with Lumbini, keeping its actual stakeholder (Nepal) in dark, we have no obligation to recognize it.” moreover, Parashar reports:

A meeting of foreign ministry officials on Wednesday to discuss the deal after reports about it started appearing in local media decided that Nepal government has nothing to do it.
The Unesco office in Nepal also denied any knowledge about the deal and is “unhappy” with it. The APECF website available only in Chinese doesn’t provide much detail about the project.
Another issue that has raised concerns in Nepal is the presence of Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda as co-chairman of APECF and former crown prince Paras Shah as member.
Two weeks ago UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon sent an emissary to Nepal who urged Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal to stop all developmental work at Lumbini for a year.

Now, lets see if either Pushpa Kamal Dahal or the Chinese government come forward with a statement.