Kathmandu, September 14

Lack of appropriate urban planning and management in the aftermath of the April 25 earthquake is posing the risk of unmanaged settlement sprawls in the Valley.

Many urban poor from damaged rental houses have been displaced to temporary shelters and makeshift tents. The owners of quake-damaged houses are residing in temporary shelters roofed with zinc sheets procured from the immediate relief amount of Rs 15,000 provided by the government.

Padma Sundar Joshi, Habitat Programme Manager at UN-Habitat said, “The owners of quake-damaged houses and the urban poor are forced to live in temporary shelters as they cannot afford the hiked rent of safe buildings.”

When the urban poor and quake victims residing in temporary shelters populate the spaces, there is chance of informal settlement sprawl leading to new slums in future. Overcrowded temporary shelters require new drainage system, drinking water supply pipelines, electricity and alleys similar to slum areas.

Moreover, many rural quake victims have alsobeen temporarily relocated to open spaces in the Valley with a view to provide them temporary shelters and makeshift tents.

Bagmati Riverbank slums at Thapathali and Sinamangal are examples of slums born of temporarily relocated disaster victims in the past.

According to Joshi, homeless quake victims on the outskirts of the Valley are taking agricultural land on lease to construct temporary shelter. The budget of Rs 200,000 allocated by the government is insufficient for constructing spacious permanent buildings.

“These areas on the outskirts of the Valley might turn into slums due to the sprawl of informal settlements on leased land,” said Joshi, adding that the populous homeless quake victims might claim ownership of the leased land to construct numerous temporary shelters.

The government, NGOs and INGOs have stressed on rural development plans without paying attention to urban planning. About 52 international stakeholders are investing over $3 million for uplifting rural settlement after the quake.

The budget of $2 million from World Bank and $1 million obtained from Japan International Cooperation Agency will also be invested in rural planning and development by the government, according to Joshi.