The people of Nepal are still reeling from the after effects of the earthquake that caused massive human casualties. Apart from losing their homes, they have to endure months of having no homes, thanks to a recent announcement by their government.
The Nepalese Government is imposing a two-month ban on approval of designs for new houses and overall constructions. This move aims to prevent haphazard housing construction, which is said to be partially responsible for the casualties.
While recent earthquakes produced deaths and injuries all over the capital, the government concluded that poor implementation of building code intensified the damages and casualties. The Ministry of Local Development plans to stop home designs and constructions while creating new by-laws.
“Before formulating a strict building code, we want to put a halt to approving new designs across the country,” said Gopi Khanal, joint-secretary at the ministry.
The Ministry of Local Development and Ministry of Urban Development reached a ‘preliminary understanding’ by setting a criteria for residential and commercial buildings. They are considering tighter design restrictions, such as a provision not to allow public to construct wall above four feet, maximum permissible limit of houses at three storeys, fixing residential and commercial areas for housing and banning haphazard land plotting.
“The decision over banning design approval and limiting house construction will be taken within a couple of days. It will be institutionalized by formulating by-laws,” said Khanal.
Some of the local authorities have already implemented the ban for design approvals at least for two months in initial phase before the ministry’s instruction. Gyanedra Karki, chief of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s Environment and Management Department explained: “We have temporarily halted approval of designs for new houses and it will be continued at least until mid-July.”
While the ban applies for design approvals, the government allows pre-approved house designs to begin construction. “Over 4,000 new designs are approved for construction annually in Kathmandu district alone,” said Karki.
This is not the first time the government imposed bans regarding property design and development. The rampant land plotting for residential and commercial purposes over the years prompted them to impose a ban on fragmentation of property without prior consent from local authorities—Village Development Committee, District Development Committee and Municipality last November. The recent events merely strengthened their decision to enforce tighter measures.
The directive was not enforced effectively, but now the people seem more aware about their safety and we have to enforce earthquake safety construction strictly,” conceded Khanal, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Local Development.