07/23/2012, 00.00
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Kathmandu's oldest Protestant church demolished for traffic

by Kalpit Parajuli
The incident occurred on July 21. In the building there were about 500 people in prayer. Demolished only the outer walls, but there are also damages the inside of the building.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - To ease traffic congestion, Kathmandu authorities have demolished the exterior walls of the largest and oldest Protestant church in the capital, also damaging the interior. The destruction took place on July 21 at 5 am and continued until the beginning of Sunday service, ignoring the 500 people already gathered in prayer in the church. Several private buildings were also destroyed, despite the inhabitants' protests. To avoid clashes with residents, the city administration deployed hundreds of police in front of the church and the houses to be demolished.

Protestant Christian Rajan Rai, accuses the government of the city of considering places of worship equal to a normal building, regardless of their spiritual and historical significance. "The authorities have no respect for religious sensibilities - he stresses - and ignore the importance of faith for us."

The case has created tensions between the Kathmandu Metropolitan Development Authority (Kmda), in charge of the project, and the leaders of the local Protestant church, who to date have not made any comments, but according to local sources will denounce the abuse in court.

Keshav Sthapit, Kmda management, defends the actions of public administration: "We have done our job without bias. The expansion of the road system has affected many religious and public buildings. In recent months, were also destroyed Hindu temples, foreign diplomatic offices and many private homes. " The official said that authorities have opened an inquiry into the disputed building and in the event of irregularities in the operations will provide to pay damages.

Recently established to solve the problem of traffic and pollution in the capital, the project launched by Kmda affects the entire city center of Kathmandu, for a total of 38 km.

In recent years the city has experienced an enormous and rapid urban expansion that has left the old central districts completely congested. The alleys and streets are no longer sufficient to contain traffic - especially motorcycles - which has increased by 213%. Every day over 500 thousand scooters, motorcycles and tricycles from travel through the districts of Kathmandu.

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