Three decades on, city planning in limbo

KATHMANDU: City planning for the Kathmandu valley came into effect in 1976, yet the metropolis presents a typical example of chaos and confusion.

"The planning failed, creating a cycle of problems," said Praphulla Man Pradhan, programme manager, UN Habitat. "We are yet to develop a mechanism to cope with unmanaged emerging cities."

"The problems of garbage, drinking water, electricity, road, crime and violence, slum and squatters, corruption and environmental degradation are on the rise in the capital city," he said. "Worse, more than 40,000 street vendors are adding to the routine problems of the metropolitan city."

Houses outside the ring road are increasing in number by 15 per cent every year. "The government has not been able to manage education, health and employment opportunities for the ever-growing population," added Pradhan.

Rabin Lal Shrestha of Water Aid Nepal said only 27 percent of the total population in Kathmandu has access to safe drinking water while 33 per cent use shared toilets.

He said the government failed to accomplish anything concretely in the last three decades in managing urbanisation.

"We formulated policies but failed to put them into practice, supported with a proper monitoring mechanism," Shrestha added.

Indra Bahadur Shrestha, Director General, Department of Urban Development and Building Construction under Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MoPPW) admitted that the policies were not effectively implemented. "The government is planning to coordinate with I/NGOs to achieve the goals," he added.

Blaming the officials for the sorry state of affairs, Kalawati Devi Paswan, assistant minister, MoPPW, said, "They have failed to implement the laws. The officials should work for the people but they didn’t."