KMC’s new building code draws flak

Kathmandu, September 1

Activists have expressed concern about Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s new building code, which allows construction of  seven-story building up to 65 feet tall even in preserved monument sub-zones.

The Cabinet meeting on August 30, 2015, had endorsed the Basic Standards on Settlement Development, Urban Planning and Building Construction for systematic urban development.

The existing federal law allows construction of only five-storey buildings not taller than 45 feet in preserved monument sub-zones.

The code allows construction of eight-storey buildings not taller than 75 feet in mixed-old settlements, while the federal law allows only six-storey buildings not taller than 65 feet.

The KMC building code also allows construction of taller apartment buildings than is permitted now. Similarly, the buildings around the buffer zones of World Heritage sites can also build two-story basement.

The Ancient Monument Preservation Act does not allow building basements in the WHS buffer zone. Architect planner, ArunDev Pant, said the new code was just going to aggravate urban mismanagement in Kathmandu. “Our government seriously lacks a master plan for the urban development and housing rules. The government should stop dividing urban areas on the basis of zoning control, which is not possible in a historical city like Kathmandu. It should rather make clear rules to control mushrooming of skyscrapers,” he said.

Similarly, Surya Bhakta Sangachhe, senior technical adviser to Earthquake Safe Communities in Nepal said KMC should have rather focused on developing infrastructures and measures to build earthquake resilient city.

According to activist Ganapati Lal Shrestha, the new code is most likely to diminish the value of heritage sites of Kathmandu. “It seems as if KMC is concerned about only pleasing real estate agents and not serious about protecting heritage monuments in the city,” he said.