Kathmandu, January 14
In a clear display of apathy towards the plight facing earthquake survivors — thousands of whom are still living in makeshift shelters — the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM) has yet to finalise the standards for construction materials, even as seven months have lapsed since the review process was initiated.
“Our technical committees are working on it and we’re close to finalising the standards for construction materials,” said Bishwo Babu Pudasaini, director general of NBSM, without divulging the cause for the delay.
After the review process kicked off in the first week of June, NBSM had initially planned to finalise the standards by last November.
The delay in finalising the standards could be another setback for the reconstruction drive, as the National Authority for Reconstruction is finally gearing up to launch the mega reconstruction campaign from Saturday.
In June, the Ministry of Industry had instructed NBSM to review the standards of construction materials for earthquake-resilient infrastructure in the aftermath of the quakes of April and May.
NBSM had also provided support to the Department of Urban Development and Building
Construction under the Ministry of Urban Development to revise the building code. The code was approved by the Cabinet in the first week of November.
After enforcement of the revised standards, manufacturers of construction materials will have to meet all the standards as fixed by NBSM to get the Nepal Standards (NS) certification. NS is mandatory in some of the construction materials, namely, cement, steel and iron rods, corrugated galvanised iron sheets and PVC wire.
Earlier, NBSM had said that it would set the standards for all kinds of construction materials including bricks, aggregates and sand, among others, and enforce NS certification mandatorily. However, due to lack of human resources to monitor the quality of materials like bricks, aggregates and sand, NBSM will let the manufacturers comply with the standards voluntarily for now.
However, standards will be designed for all kinds of construction materials, according to Pudasaini.
A version of this article appears in print on January 15, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.