Kathmandu, October 31
The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has issued a circular to all local bodies to put into effect the Basic Standards on Settlement Development, Urban Planning and Building Construction, 2015, which was endorsed by the Cabinet on August 30.
A circular issued to 75 district development committees, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, 12 sub-metropolitan cities and 204 municipalities has directed the local bodies to enforce the standards so as to build resilient communities in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes of April 25 and May 12 that resulted in huge loss of lives and property.
The local bodies have been instructed to approve the blueprints for new buildings on the basis of the new standards. House owners will now be required to conclude an agreement with a technician for supervision of the entire construction process for approval of blueprint.
Owners found to have bypassed the National 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. However, the expenses for the demolition will be borne by the house owners.
The Local Governance Act confers power on the municipalities and VDCs to issue directive to demolish illegally constructed structures. The basic guideline has 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. In plots with over 250 square feet space, structures have to be built leaving 40 per cent space.
For public and semi public buildings, the structure must not cover more than 50 per cent area of the land. Similarly, the boundary walls of houses built illegally or those which do not meet the prescribed standards will be removed in all municipal areas, including KMC. More than 100,000 boundary walls of private and government houses/buildings were fully or partially damaged by the earthquake in the Kathmandu Valley.
Collapse of the poorly constructed roadside boundary walls alone was responsible for the death of at least 150 persons out of 1,222 killed in the quakes in the capital.
As per the standard, a wall of brick, stone, cement or concrete on the roadside should not be higher than four feet in height from the road/pavement level. The owner may place wire, rod or angle railing of up to 6.7 feet on the top of the wall from the ground level in a manner that the building or house premises can be seen from outside.
Meanwhile, the local bodies will be obliged to protect public lands by declaring them open spaces. The government has prohibited the use such lands without approval from the concerned authorities.
As many as 83 open spaces have already been designated by the Ministry of Home Affairs for effective humanitarian coordination and response to mega natural disasters, especially earthquakes, while the Kathmandu Valley Development Authority has identified 887 more open spaces, including government, public and private lands and forested areas.
Of the newly-identified open spaces, Kathmandu has 488, Lalitpur 346 and Bhaktapur 53.
A version of this article appears in print on November 01, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.