2-month moratorium on building design nod, land plotting

- Roshan Sedhai, Kathmandu

May 18, 2015-

The government on Monday halted the construction of new buildings and plotting of land across the country until the fiscal year ends in mid-July.

Issuing a circular, the Ministry of Local Development and Federal Affairs directed all the District Development Committees and municipalities not to approve house designs for the next two months.

A meeting of cross-ministerial stakeholders on Monday  decided to keep the nationwide ban until an amended Building Code comes into effect possibly by mid-July.

The new code, according to ministry officials, will be more stringent than the current one and would be strictly enforced. The ministry also directed owners to limit the height of buildings under construction to two storeys.

The circular, however, clarifies that people in the quake-hit districts can build earthquake-resistant and environment-friendly houses upon receiving clearance from the local authorities.

“The temporary ban was enforced in consideration of public safety. It will be lifted after making necessary changes in construction rules and ensuring their effective implementation,” said Som Lal Subedi, secretary at the Local Development Ministry.

Stressing the need to review the building code, the ministry suspended land plotting and commercial residence construction during the period.

Houses owners have been asked to immediately remove walls along footpaths considering the risk it poses to pedestrians.

The municipality staff have also been barred from designing commercial buildings. Many engineers are found to have given clearance to buildings without considering the environmental impact for personal gains.

After the devastating earthquake, stakeholders have held several meetings to introspect regulatory loopholes.

Initial discussions were focused on limiting the height of the new structures to three storeys but it was reduced to two as suggested by a majority of experts and stakeholders.

Concerned agencies blame building code violation for the damage. Many built high-rises without a go-ahead from the authorities, using substandard materials and avoiding soil tests and consultation with professional engineers.

“The new building code will take all these factors into consideration. There is the need for thorough revision of the existing rules and regulations and its monitoring to promote building safety,” said Secretary Subedi.

Most stakeholders have sought an improved code with harsher penalty for its violators.

Officials privy to the developments say the amended building code will increase the penalty and fine from the current Rs 50,000.

Many believe that the low penalty for building code violation encouraged many to openly flout rules as they would be renting spaces out for commercial purpose at high rates.

Officials say there could be separate height limitations for residential and commercial complexes like the other parameters.

Land pooling and plotting will now come under the purview of the building code to stop haphazard urbanisation.

Published: 19-05-2015 07:50

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