Nepal has decided to lease out or rent land, a palace, and a bungalow owned by members of the royal family killed in a mass shooting by Prince Dipendra in June 2001 in order to generate revenues and boost tourism.
The Nepal Trust, established in 2007 and entrusted with tracing the movable and immovable properties of slain King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah and his family members, has called for tenders to lease or rent some prime properties owned by the royals.
In 2006, after the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist joined the peace process, the government decided to nationalise all properties belonging to the royals by setting set up a dedicated office to manage and use these assets.
A palace and a bungalow located outside the Kathmandu Valley will be leased to private firms to attract tourists and generate revenues.
According to Bhim Prasad Uphadhyay, secretary in the office of the Nepal Trust, three prime properties in the heart of Kathmandu will soon be leased out for use as commercial complexes. “The revenue coming from rented and leased properties will be used in education and health sectors,” he told Hindustan Times.
Four palaces - two in Pokhara and one each in Chitwan and Hetuda - will be opened to tourists soon, he added.
The Nepal Trust currently earns millions of rupees from a resort and a building in Kathmandu that were owned by the royals.
The royals were among Nepal’s richest people, owned unaccounted movable and immovable properties, and were known for their lavish lifestyle. All properties belonging to the royals were brought under the purview of the trust since Nepal decided to abolish the monarchy in 2006.
Properties owned by royals, such as land, bungalows, villas and palaces worth billions of rupees, have been traced in 25 districts across Nepal.
“As of now, we have traced 1,000 hectares owned by the former royals and brought them under our ownership,” said Uphadhyay. Some of the lands which have high value will be leased out or rented .
The Nepal Trust has also traced Nepali Rs 300 million ($30 million), £47,656 and $137,014 deposited by the royals, according to the body’s latest report. The trust has also transferred the ownership of 230,099 shares of banks and hotels.
It is presumed the royals also deposited huge amounts in foreign banks but the trust has not able to trace these funds.
Narayan Hiti, the main palace in the heart of Kathmandu, which served as the house and office of the royals, has been turned into a museum that attracts hundreds of visitors every day while a section is occupied by the foreign ministry.
Nine members of the royal family, including King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya, were killed when their son, Prince Dipendra, opened fire with automatic weapons following a quarrel at a dinner in Narayan Hiti Palace on June 1, 2001. Dipendra also died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.