Construction sans approval of blueprints

  • Nepali Army not complying with national laws

Kathmandu, January 22

The Nepali Army has been carrying out construction of buildings at various locations in Kathmandu, violating the Nepal National Building Code and without getting the blueprints approved from the authority concerned.

Deputy Mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City Hari Prabha Khadgi said the army was constructing three buildings inside the NA headquarters at Bhadrakali, one inside Tudhikhel, one across the KMC office and one beside Bir Hospital Trauma Centre at Mahankal without obtaining approval from the KMC.

The building at Mahankal is being constructed after demolishing a 93-year-old army hospital that catered to NA personal, their families and even the public before the 2015 earthquakes damaged it.

The Local Governance Act 2017, Chapter 7, Section 28 makes it mandatory for all buildings including government facilities to apply at the local levels for approval of blueprints.Deputy Mayor Khadgi said the KMC’s request for the same was blatantly ignored by the NA.

“We have asked the army many times to comply with the law by getting the blueprints of the under-construction buildings approved, but  to no avail,” she said.

“Unless the KMC makes government bodies comply with the law, it won’t have moral grounds to ask the general people to get their blueprints approved,” Deputy Mayor Khadgi added.

Head of Department of Building Permit at KMC Rabindra Poudyal said they had not received any application from the NA for approval of any blueprints.

Normally it takes more than one month to issue the first draft of a blueprint to build the foundation of any private building if the process goes smoothly. The public have to write  another letter for further construction of buildings before they are able to acquire the certificate of building completion.

Without the building completion certificate, a building can still be considered illegal.

KMC charges Rs 1,000 as application fee and Rs 25 and Rs 35 per square feet floor depending on the nature of the building. The building owner should also pay the same amount of tax each year, according to Poudyal.

Minister for Defence Bhimsen Das Pradhan who has also been elected as Member of the Parliament from the same area said that no one was allowed to go against the law and that he had asked the NA to undertake construction work by complying with the law.

“More than the defence minister, I am a son of this country and I will do everything in my power to make NA follow the national laws,” Minister Pradhan said.

Spokesperson for the NA Gokul Bhandari did not provide the blueprints of the buildings saying that certain aspects of a building design should be kept secret for security reasons. “We cannot provide the detailed maps of buildings inside the Army Headquarter. It’s like exposing our vulnerability,” Bhandari said.

The NA is also constructing a commercial building after demolishing an army hospital, from the money which army personnel received as their salary while going on UN peacekeeping missions in foreign conflict zones.

The NA spokesperson said they had reached agreement to lease the building to a private company called Everest Enterprises for 15 years at Rs 500 million annually. More than two-thirds of the total area of the building would be used for commercial purpose, he said.

The Neo-classical modelled Tri-Chandra Hospital was establish in 1925 in memory of Gorkha soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War (1914-1918). The hospital with 601 beds was providing services to NA personnel and their families, and to the public from 2014. Some activists even protested against demolition of the historical army hospital building. But the NA concluded that the building being less than 100 years old could not be considered heritage and went ahead with the demolition.

President of Nepal Heritage Society Poonam Rajya Laxmi Rana said they had to face a frustrating situation to make the NA reconstruct the building in its original design. NA has constructed Doric Ionic pillars and adopted a Cornish floral design at the façade using modern elements for the building, giving only the impression of Neo-classicism, an iconic Rana-era design of Nepali heritage sites.