Nepal presents an ideal case study to explore the complexity of rights issues in the South Asian context. The country presently has 2 natural and 2 cultural sites listed on the World Heritage list. From the heights of Sagarmatha and the lowlands of Chitwan, 2 national parks appear on list alongside Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha and the Kathmandu Valley. The latter has been chosen for the case study. The capital city of Nepal was enlisted as a World Heritage Site in 1979, in the form of a serial site with 7 protected monument zones.
The Patan Durbar Square site is an urban case under immense development pressures; hence it is crucial to address the changing property relations and livelihood issues of the people living within the site. In this case, the National Government (Department of Archaeology) and the Patan Municipality have a power-sharing role, and traditional communal organisations and religious trusts (‘Guthi’) have a decreasing role. In Swoyambhu Mahachaitya, though, the local religious trusts have a strong, powerful position in terms of site management and caretaking of heritage resources. This research therefore primarily focuses on the rights of the community to use (through worship and rituals) spaces within these sites in the face of changing land and property relations.
In addition, a qualitative assessment of national dynamics will be undertaken alongside a national round- table, where additional resource mobilization is being planned.
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