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Nepal king set to lose five more palaces

world Updated: Aug 26, 2007 17:39 IST
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A ministerial team formed to assess the wealth inherited by Nepal King Gyanendra advised the government on Sunday to nationalise five more mansions and eight forest lands of the royal family.

The five-member team last week had announced nationalisation of seven prime palaces, including the Narayanhity royal palace in the capital, the official seat of the royal family. The team was formed to begin a state takeover of the royal assets within 15 days.

On Sunday, the ministers recommended stripping the royal family of five more mansions, including the one where he had shifted with Queen Komal after the announcement.

Now the Nagarjuna palace, that served as the summer resort of the royal family and was extensively renovated by Gyanendra after he ascended the throne in 2001, will also be nationalised.

The government will also take over four more palaces: one each in Gokarna and Hetauda and two in Pokhara city.

The king had spent several days in one of the Pokhara palaces during the last days of his government despite growing unrest in the capital.

At a time when the nation was reeling under a funds crunch, the royalist ministers and government officials had to be flown to Pokhara from the capital and back as the king was reportedly advised by his astrologers to stay out of the palace.

Besides the 12 palaces, the royal family also loses eight extensive forestlands that brought sizeable revenue.

The government has announced the Narayanhity palace, where an infamous massacre in 2001 wiped out the then king Birendra and his entire family, will be used as an office while the mansions regarded as architectural wonders would be handed over to the archaeology department to be transformed into museums.

Last week, the government sealed the bank accounts of the king, queen, Crown Prince Paras and his wife Himani to stop transactions till the ministerial assessment is over.

Gyanendra has been gradually stripped of his powers and privileges after his regime fell due to a national uprising in 2006.

Though prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala wavered when it came to drafting new laws and putting the king, once above law, on trial for the excesses of his 15-month government, under pressure from the Maoists, who want monarchy to be abolished, he has been forced to agree to the royal property takeover as a sop to the communist rebels.

The king is now set to lose all the property he inherited from his slain brother Birendra, which includes mansions, land, a treasure trove of jewellery and bank accounts.