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Not enough space

Kathmandu, May 11, 2016: The hoarding board of Lalit Kala Campus stands on the college premises in Bhotahiti, but you can no longer hear students practising raagas or see them working on their paintings and sculptures. Only an unusable and deserted building stands, awaiting demolition.

The Gorkha earthquake of 2015 damaged this two-storey building of Lalit Kala Campus, spread over an area of one ropani and 12 ana. And more than 500 students studying in this college — Nepal’s first college offering courses in Music, Fine Arts, Graphics and Sculpture — were displaced. For the past one year, classes are being held in the Tribhuvan University (TU), Kirtipur, in the Gandhi Bhawan, Girls’ Hostel and Student’s Club.

Sluggish process
This space however is not sufficient. There is need for 14 classrooms at least, but the college has been adjusting its classes in a total of six rooms in different buildings of TU, as per Prof Dr Laya Mainali, Assistant Campus Chief of Lalit Kala Campus.

A year has passed but the college authority has done nothing about its own building or arrange enough classrooms for its students.

“Since, it is government property, we can’t take sole decision on anything related to the building.

There are certain procedures that need to be followed,” expressed Bipin Kumar Ghimire, Campus Chief of Lalit Kala Campus.

The building, that is over 100 years old, needs to be demolished and a new one needs to be constructed. For that, the college authority has been “consulting with the Department of Archaeology and TU” as per Prof Dr Mainali.

“We are about to get the approval to demolish the building,” he informed adding, “If we get permission, we will demolish it in four months. Only then will we be able to take necessary steps required for the construction of the new building.”

Students’ woes
The sluggish process of the college and other authorities concerned has given headache to the students and faculty members. Though they have got six classrooms in TU, the space is not permanent — they are shifted from one corner of TU to the other.

Elaborating on the difficulties, Raju Giri, a BFA IVth Year student at Lalit Kala Campus complained, “Our classrooms have been shifted at least three times. First we were using a room near the canteen where rats cut through our canvases, and the smoke coming from the kitchen also damaged our
canvases. A few students lost their canvases too.”

Then their classes were conducted under tents on TU grounds but wind and rain did not let them study peacefully.

Currently Giri and his friends have been shifted to the building of TU’s Students’ Club. Here, the problem is congestion.

Even the building’s lobby has been turned into a classroom, but as Nabina Sunwar, a BFA IIIrd Year student, revealed the space provided is not sufficient.

“Out of 70 students, around 20 are regulars in our level (BFA IIIrd Year). The space however is not enough to accommodate even these regulars. So, our classes are combined with the students of other levels,” Sunwar expressed further adding, “And even this building has big cracks all around.”

Against all odds
The college shifted from Bhotahiti to Kirtipur and this has made students travel a longer distance than they used to. And they need to travel daily carrying their canvases along with other study materials. But the students are determined to complete their studies despite the hardships.

Their teachers are supporting the students to meet their goals.

“In this time of crisis we are grateful that TU has provided us this space. To complete our courses and help students learn, we have decided to run the classes even during holidays,” informed Prof Dr Mainali.

Agreeing with him, Ram Shankar Dev (Sonami), a BFA IVth Year student at Lalit Kala Campus added, “Our teachers are giving us extra time to complete our assignments, and teaching extra hours. They have been supportive of us.”

However, from students to faculty members, everyone is looking forward to build their own campus building where they can again have their spacious classrooms for their courses.