Building code envisions protecting water bodies, curbing encroachment

Kathmandu, December 26

The new building code issued by the government strictly prohibits encroachment of rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and canals.

According to the building code circulated to all level levels, structures may be built at a distance of at least 30 metres on either side of a river or stream. In the case of lake and canal, the distance has been maintained at 50 metres and 10 metres respectively. The code requires the concerned local level to coordinate with the land revenue and survey offices to maintain the record of lands on the beds of river, stream, lake, canal and pond to ensure that they are not encroached. However, embankments or any work related to protection of natural resources may be carried out.

The code states that the concerned levels shall use the river, stream, lake, canal and pond beds to maintain greenery and enhance beautification. Similarly, no one shall be allowed to construct any structure in a manner to cause adverse impact on water springs, natural lakes or ponds, well and traditional stone spouts.

The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration has urged Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Lalitpur Municipality and municipalities of Kathmandu valley to implement the code in the Bishnumati River, Manahara Khola, Dhobi Khola, Tukucha Khola, Nakhkhu Khola, Mahadev Khola, Sangle Khola, Karmanasa Khola, Karkhsi Khola, Hanumante Khola and the Bagmati River.

The ‘Basic Standards on Settlement Development, Urban Planning and Building Construction’ has also incorporated these rules for the purpose of building resilient communities. It empowers the local levels to prepare and implement building standards in such a way that they not weaker than the basic standards prescribed by the federal government.

Earlier, the local levels were instructed to approve the blueprints for new buildings on the basis of compliance with basic standards. Owners found to have bypassed the building code will be asked to demolish illegal structures. If they fail to do so within the given time, the local authorities will demolish the buildings themselves. The expenses for the demolition will be borne by the concerned house owners.

The basic standards have also fixed land use percentage. Residential houses built in an area of up to 250 square feet are required to leave 30 per cent open space.