Kathmandu, January 22
The Fire Control and Disaster Management Section of Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development today wrote to all district development committees, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, sub-metropolitan cities and municipalities to construct at least one helipad in each VDCs and municipality.
On December 4 last year, the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers had decided to direct the MoFALD to make arrangements for one helipad each in all VDCs and municipalities as part of disaster management and preparedness plan.
An official at the MoFALD said the move was aimed at making emergency management of relief and rescue operation, and transportation of construction materials easy.
“We have urged the local bodies to construct one helipad in each VDC and municipality of all the 75 districts,” he informed.
In the aftermath of the April 25 earthquake, which killed nearly 9,000 people and damaged or destroyed more than 900,000 government and private buildings/houses, it had been a major challenge for the authorities to reach out to quake-affected areas and send relief teams and materials due to the lack of helipads.
The MoFALD official said the VDCs and municipalities in coordination with concerned district disaster relief committees, which is headed by chief district officer, will construct helipad.
The government had failed to carry out timely search and rescue operation and send relief materials to earthquake victims due to lack of helipads and adequate take-off and landing space in the remote areas, which have little or no road connectivity.
It has always been tough to ensure safe helicopter operations in isolated and mountain terrains, where conditions are further exacerbated by adverse weather. There are not more than 100 helipads across the country with a total of 3,276 VDCs and 217 municipalities.
A version of this article appears in print on January 23, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.