Nepal | September 29, 2020

Experts stress better urban planning to develop liveable cities

Himalayan News Service
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Experts in urban planning say the massive earthquake of April 25 was an eye opener and that reconstruction and rebuilding works should focus on liveable urban planning.

Increasing number of illegal settlements, high-rise buildings, concrete houses, excessive road expansion, and rising number of vehicles with limited public and open spaces and lack of public interaction are posing threats to the liveable Valley, they said, adding, rapid urbanisation and population explosion have induced social and environment problems which need to be curbed immediately with proper planning for developing liveable cities.

“The open and public spaces should be allocated abundantly in the aftermath of the quake. People can relate and interact with each other in the open and public spaces regularly,” said Sudarshan Raj Tiwari, an architect and urban planner.

Over-expansion of roadways and motorised commuting have encroached upon open and public spaces and have degraded environment. The narrow walkways and footpaths along the roads are hassle for the pedestrian traffic.

“The roadways should meet the needs of pedestrians and commuters, not of vehicles. Larger vehicles should replace small vehicles for public transportation. The car-centric trips should be discouraged for people-friendly and eco-friendly ambience,” he said, adding that roads should be designed for the bicycles and other non-motorised vehicles. Bharat Basnet, Chairperson of Clean Energy Nepal, stressed that high-rise buildings and multi-storey concrete structures should not exceed the low standing houses. The Western and European countries are reducing the high-rise buildings to increase public spaces with low standing houses. “The residents of high-rise buildings are unlikely to interact with other people. Social life is largely impacted by the high-rise settlements,” he said, adding that zebra-crossings, footpaths, resting platforms and recreational spots adjacent to urban streets are necessary for walkability. The green gardens, parks and greenery should be managed in the cities for the health and fresh environment.

Culture, lifestyle, social life and traditions of Kathmanduites have been hit hard by the urban sprawl and devastating quake. The traditional houses and heritages in the city cores areas of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur need preservation to make urban cities liveable, they said.

Padma Sundar Joshi, Habitat Programme Manager, UN-Habitat, said “Inclusion of local people and their cultural practices and objects are contributing factor of the liveable cities. Modernity should not kill the historical and traditional roots of the society.” Yogeshwor Parajuli, Development Commissioner at the Kathmandu Valley Development Authority, said Kathmandu Urban Regeneration Committee Project has been formed to come up with a policy to make the Valley liveable.

According to Parajuli, urban regeneration will be done through the house-pooling process with the consent from local house owners. The survived buildings in city’s cores areas will be revamped by urban regeneration without making any changes to the outer and inner outlook of the buildings, chowks and monuments.

A version of this article appears in print on July 19, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.

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