China`s plan for Buddha`s birth place sparks row

The government naturally needs international support for this, he added.

Kathmandu: An ambitious plan by a
China-based agency to turn Lumbini, the birth place of Lord
Buddha on the Nepal-India border, into a "Mecca for Buddhists"
has been embroiled in a controversy as it clashed with the
government`s master plan to develop the historical site.

China-based Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation
(APEC) Foundation had announced plans to make a huge
investment of USD 3 billion in Nepal`s western Lumbini area in
collaboration with United Nations Industrial Development
Organization (UNIDO) that would convert the birth place of
Lord Buddha into a "Mecca for Buddhists".

APEC had claimed to have signed a MoU with UNIDO for
the development of Lumbini area last month.

We have no information about any such agreement or
plan, said Mod Raj Dotel, the Secretary in Nepal`s Ministry of

This means the government has refused to recognise the
project as it was signed with the UN body without its

The mega project aims to create a special development
zone in western Nepal`s Lumbini area, situated on the
Nepal-India border by building airports, hotels, convention
centres and other infrastructures.

Nepal government has its own master plan of 1978 to
develop the Lumbini area by building various infrastructures.
The government wants to develop the Lumbin area as per
the master plan developed by renowned Japanese architect Kenzo
Tange at the initiative of then UN Secretary General U Thant.

"The overall intent of the Master Plan is to reinforce
the symbolic entity of the Lumbini Garden in its simplicity
and clarity," Tange said.

As per Nepal`s master plan, Lumbini is to be developed
as Lumbini Garden, consisting of three components: Lumbini
village, the cultural monastic zone and the sacred garden.

One of the important part of the Lumbini garden is
Ashoka Pillar, constructed by Indian emperor Ashoka in the
third century BC as part of his campaign to renounce violence.

In April 2010, Nepal`s parliament had endorsed a plan
under which Lumbini would be developed as an international
peace city and to accomplish the remaining tasks of the master
plan within a period of three years.

It would require about Rs 7 billion to complete the
works mentioned in the master plan, said Dotel.

The government naturally needs international support
for this, he added.

According to observers, the project being secretly
developed by China without official knowledge of the
government might create security concern for India, as it
would require presence of Chinese officials in the area which
is close to Nepal?India border.


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