KATHMANDU, Dec 25: The government is actively pursuing diplomatic initiatives to repatriate 137 stolen idols currently abroad to Nepal. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation has revealed ongoing diplomatic efforts with countries such as the US, France, China, India, Australia, and the UK to facilitate the return of these cultural artifacts.

In a progress report marking the government’s one-year completion, the ministry disclosed that 10 idols have been successfully brought back to Nepal within the past year. Additionally, six more stolen idols are in the process of being repatriated after completing the necessary procedures.

The ministry highlighted positive developments in tourist arrivals over the past year, citing approximately one million visitors to Nepal with expectations of continued growth. Furthermore, the concept of the Nepal Visit Decade (2023-32) has received approval and is now in the implementation phase.

In terms of technological advancements, the ministry has facilitated hotel registration management, mountain climbing permit systems, online booking of international and domestic air tickets for Nepal Airlines Corporation, and virtual tours of the national museum through information technology. Notably, the air service agreement between Nepal and Rwanda has been finalized, while bilateral air agreements with Switzerland and Indonesia are in the final stages.

The ministry reported the launch of a cleanliness campaign, emphasizing the approval of cleanliness guidelines for airports, cultural, religious, and tourist sites. In the Pashupati area, a comprehensive cleanliness campaign has been conducted every Saturday for three months. The initiative to expand electric cremation in the Pashupati area and make it free of charge is nearing completion.

Additionally, efforts are underway to transfer Pashupatinath’s land to the organization, and the search for lost land is ongoing. The beautification of the Pashupati area includes stringent control over undesirable activities, including the use of alcohol and drugs.

Furthermore, the Nepal government has opened five new mountains in the Jugal snow chain for climbing, bringing the total number of mountains available for climbing to 419. Sudan Kirati, leader of the Maoist Center, has been heading the Ministry of Tourism since his appointment as minister on January 17.