Kathmandu: The Nepal government has formed a committee led by Tourism Joint-Secretary to probe plans to construct a restaurant and other facilities at the iconic Narayanhiti Palace Museum here, Tourism Minister Prem Bahadur Ale said on Thursday.

The previous K P Oli-led central government had allowed a private company, Batas Group, to build a restaurant and other facilities at the palace-museum, which in the past has served as the residence of the monarchs of Nepal. Just for the restaurant, 54,760 sqft of land was allotted.

The government headed by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba halted the work after the public criticised the plans on social media. Many said the palace would lose its aesthetic feel with the construction.

The probe panel was formed by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and will be led by Tourism Ministry Joint-Secretary Hom Prasad Luintel, Minister Ale said.

Other members are Under-Secretary of Employees Administration Tek Narayan Poudel, Comptroller General of Financial Management Division Suryamani Gautam and Under-Secretary Purushottam Khatiwada.

Section officer Tanka Bahadur Negi has been appointed as the member-secretary of the probe panel.

The committee will submit its report within three days, Ale said.

On Tuesday, Ale had directed the Narayanhiti Palace Museum and Republic Memorial Management and Operation Development Board to halt all ongoing construction work.

The palace was the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality. The palace complex has an impressive and vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings.

In 1963, King Mahendra ordered the demolition of the old palace and construction of a new palace. Decade-long construction of the palace ended in 1969, according to the website of the Narayanhiti Palace Museum.

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