EDITORIAL: Stick to the rules

The new building code, though generally appreciated, may need to be reviewed to correct any shortcomings that may have remained

Buildings which are constructed without meeting the building code are to be denied water supply, electricity, telephone and sewerage services as recommended to the concerned agencies by the Policy Coordination Committee under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development.

The national budget for 2016/17 states that the building code would be amended as per necessity and there would be strict monitoring to see to it that no building is built defying this code. This decision would be implemented with the deadline set at mid-July 2017.

The budget has also made it compulsory to construct disabled friendly infrastructures of public spaces, government offices and also health and educational institutes the provision for which has been made in the new building code.

The government will not permit the building of new houses on plots smaller than 2.8 annas.

Similarly roads in residential areas have to be a minimum of six metres wide and local roads should be stretched to three metres on either side from the central line. Failing to comply with this would mean that the municipalities and VDCs will not issue building permits.

Previously there was no such regulation regarding the width of the road while the minimum area required to build new houses was 2.5 annas. Now houses built side by side will not be allowed to exceed three storeys.

The new bylaws are indeed an improvement on the shortcomings of National Building Code of 1994. However, the rules should be made after a thorough study of the ground realities. The houses built should be able to withstand major earthquakes and there should be no compromise in the safety of such buildings.

Most of the residential areas in the core areas of Kathmandu city are built on small land which are getting more and more fragmented over the years.

The flaws in urban planning in Kathmandu and other cities of the country was seen after the devastating earthquake last year which made it necessary to formulate new urbanisation policies that meet the international standards.

Soil testing and seismic analysis have also been made mandatory for constructing buildings taller than five storeys. Such testing is a geotechnical study of a land’s load-bearing capacity while seismic analysis is the calculation of the response of a building to earthquakes.

Other provisions in the new building code which should be taken positively is to make it mandatory for the installation of solar power systems in the houses built in the Kathmandu valley.

Fences around a house should not be taller than 1.2m.

During the 2015 quakes many tall walls had collapsed resulting in human casualties. The government should punish those flouting the building code by depriving them of utilities. Also home builders should have to leave a minimum of 3 metres from the centre of the road connecting the house so that they may be expanded in the future.

Meanwhile, all the construction activities should be monitored by experts leaving no room for the building sub standard dangerous houses.

The new building code, though generally appreciated, may need to be reviewed to correct any shortcomings that may have remained.

Last rites

Our social and religious traditions have evolved over thousands of years but change has also been gradually happening according to people’s convenience, though not in all respects.

For example, traditionally only sons have been performing the last rites of their parents from the cremation through the 13 days of rigorous rituals to the periodic, including annual, homage that is paid to the departed parents.

But there have also been occasions where daughters have performed the religious rites for the dead parents.

Some of the daughters willing to do so have successfully fought their way while the others have yielded to objections from their family members, relatives or neighbours.

The objections have been based on ancient practice that stresses male offspring in this regard. But the other side argues that our religious scriptures do not specifically prohibit daughters.

The latest case in point is that in Phidim three daughters who did not have brothers were prevented from performing the death rites for their mother despite their insistence on doing so.

It is time to be less rigid in this matter.