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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

World

Plan afoot to develop Lumbini as World Peace City
Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times
Kathmandu, June 26, 2014
First Published: 13:36 IST(26/6/2014)
Last Updated: 13:42 IST(26/6/2014)

Nepal plans to develop Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, as a World Peace City.

A master plan which envisages an investment of nearly 762 million USD prepared by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) was unveiled at Kathmandu on Wednesday.

The plan, to be implemented in an area spread across 25 square miles, also suggests developing nearly 388 square miles near Lumbini as a peace and harmony district to protect heritage sites in the area.

Mayadevi Temple, which is located at the site near Buddha’s birthplace, would be the focal point of the plan to be developed in the design of a lotus.

The area would be developed as three zones—Buddha zone at the centre, followed by the Dharma zone and the Sangha zone.

“Lumbini is world property. Nepal needs support from national and international organisations to implement the plan,” Nepal’s tourism minister, Bhim Acharya, said at the function.

This is not the first ambitious plan for Lumbini. In 2012, an agreement was signed between a Nepal government committee and a Chinese government-backed NGO to turn the area into a ‘Mecca for Buddhists’.

The agreement signed with Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation (APEC) that planned to bring in nearly 5 billion USD to Lumbini had courted controversy as its details were not shared.

Earlier, the same plan had been put on the back burner after Nepal government refused to recognise a deal signed between APEC and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to transform the sleepy town in Indo-Nepal border with airports and five-star hotels.

Due to its proximity to the Indian border, the project had raised concern among Indian security experts who were worried about the long-term Chinese presence in the area and mushrooming of Chinese settlements.

The present development and constructions around Mayadevi Temple are based on another plan prepared by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange in 1975.


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