The total impacts of the recent earthquakes are yet to be assessed. The positive side of the disaster was that the midday hit resulted in fewer casualties. Had it been at night, more than a million people would have died. However, in their immediate wake, all homes and abroad concerned authorities emerged to help, unlike petty interests shown by leaders for the statute. The first priority was to rescue, feed, and provide shelter to the victims. It is a misconception to think that houses should be expensive and made of concrete. A tarpaulin tent or a shanty shed worth a thousand rupees proved safer than buildings worth millions in the aftermath of the recent quakes. Moreover, a simple house of one and a half storey should be advisable - 16 ft height in the middle, thatched or zinc sheet roof; two feet alleviated ground floor; structure frame of four posts for a room of 8X12 ft, six posts for two rooms; a single floor of planks support beam; bars of bamboos or strips for side cover with bamboo splinters or planks; 2X6 ft door and 2X3 ft window for each room and room/s on attic; posts of ‘saal’, fir or local durable wood to erect, concrete base; 4 to 6 ft terrace for patio; a separate kitchen and toilet; neat and tidy water proof paint, light and strong beautiful which are safe. Call it a shed house, it should stand for 25 to 30 years and be provided for the whole of Nepal.The location of houses should be chosen carefully so as to avoid landslides, floods and avalanche. Clustered houses with narrow passes are to be avoided; as lessons from earthquakes highlight the importance of open space. Thus, those who earn money must abandon the bid to build expensive concrete buildings, particularly in Kathmandu. Simple houses can be decorated and the money can used for real benefit. About 22 years ago I met a British housing and control manager in a wine tasting meet at a hotel in Hong Kong. He said works were ongoing for construction of 150 houses with careful consideration to facilities of road, electricity, water, children’s parks etc. In Kathmandu Valley, haphazard settlements are the main cause of problems in roads, power cut, water shortage etc. The metropolis and municipalities should build earthquake resistant houses and more courtyards too, if possible. Thus, even concrete house should be of a maximum three stories; or five stories and seven stories for personal, business and housing purposes, respectively.
The Himalayan Times
Published: 12:48 am Jun 19, 2015