KATHMANDU, August 13
The government has tasked Kathmandu Valley Development Authority with the responsibility of protecting and managing identified open spaces for use in the aftermath of natural disasters.
A meeting of high-level government officials at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, held in Singha Durbar yesterday discussed ways to protect the identified open spaces and ensure their safe use in the post-disaster situation.
The meeting of representatives from the Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, the KDVA and other stakeholders decided to assign KDVA with the task of looking after open spaces.
Earlier, the government had designated 83 open spaces for effective humanitarian coordination and response to mega natural disasters, especially earthquakes, while the KDVA has identified 887 more open spaces, including government, public and private lands and forested areas in the Valley. Of the newly-identified open spaces, Kathmandu has 488, Lalitpur 346 and Bhaktapur 53.
The MoUD, MoLDFA and the Ministry of Home Affairs will extend necessary cooperation to KDVA for protection and enhancement of these open spaces. KDVA has been mandated to prepare and implement an integrated physical development plan for the Valley.
The plan comes after tens of thousands of Valley denizens, fearful of frequent aftershocks of the April 25 earthquake, were forced to camp in the streets, premises of government offices and other risky areas in an unsystematic manner due to lack of pre-determined open spaces.
Shanta Raj Subedi, secretary at OPMCM, directed the concerned authority to do the needful to prevent encroachment of identified open spaces in coordination with local people, while managing and protecting such places. He also urged officials to formulate an action plan for protection and management of open spaces. “Any person or group occupying pen spaces will be vacated immediately and brought to book,” he said.
Stating that the Valley was vulnerable to earthquake, Secretary Subedi laid emphasis on the need to accommodate displaced people in the open spaces in case of a natural disaster similar to that of the April 25 earthquake. “It is also essential to develop necessary infrastructure and basic amenities in the open spaces for their immediate use after mega disasters,” he said.
For the purpose of developing systematic urban settlement, KVDA is also doing groundwork to identify roads of strategic importance and widen them to a minimum of 12 metres for easy and accessible use during emergency. The roads leading to large hospitals and open spaces will be widened as new road links will be proposed for easy mobility of vehicles during and after the emergency.
A version of this article appears in print on August 14, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.