Kathmandu metropolis to review its faulty building code

- ANUP OJHA, Kathmandu

Feb 16, 2019-

After receiving widespread criticism from heritage experts, conservationists and urban architects over Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s new ‘Building Code 2075,’ the metropolis has announced to review the code and conduct an extended interaction with experts.

The metropolis formed a four-member committee under Spokesperson of the metropolis Ishwar Man Dangol on Wednesday to carry out the work.

“We are going to invite experts, urban architects and heritage conservationists to conduct an extensive discussion and make the required amendment in the Building Code,” said Dangol.

At a discussion programme ‘Heritage Conservation and Present Challenge’, held in Kathmandu, on February 3, experts and conservationists had criticised the metropolis’s new ‘building code’ stating that the code would have a long term effect on tangible and intangible heritage sites inside the metropolis.

Conservationist Rabindra Puri said the metropolis came up with such a faulty code due to a lack of expertise in the metropolis. “It’s because higher-level officials at the metropolis do not know the importance of our heritage sites,” said Puri. He added that the metropolis should amend the code at any cost.

Heritage experts and city planners have long been lamenting the Mayor’s office for introducing the ‘Building Code 2075’ without consulting experts. They have issues regarding the code ignoring the Ancient Monument Preservation Act-2013, which restricts the construction of underground structures near heritage sites. It also bars the construction of buildings that are taller than 35 feet and are more than four storeys tall. The new Building Code, which was passed by the City Council, however, grants a maximum height of 65 feet and allows the construction of a seven-storey building in the old city under a protected-sub region. In the mixed-old city areas, the metropolis grants the construction of an eight-storey building with height of 75 feet.    

“The metropolis has come up with a new code against the main law of the nation, and this will cost traditional Newari architecture a lot in long run. The metropolis has taken a completely wrong decision,” said Bishnu Raj Karki, former chief at Department of Archaeology.  

Although the metropolis’s Building Code states that the new law has been introduced to preserve historical, cultural and archaeological monuments, section 9 of the new code has a provision

of ‘old city zone’ under Preserved Monument Sub-Zone, under which, the provision allows the construction of a one-story basement for personal parking and storage purpose.

“The decision to review the code is a good one. But I doubt the metropolis is making amendments in the law in respect to preserving heritage,” said Ganapati Lal Shrestha, who has been long working as an activist to conserve heritage sites in the metropolis.   

Pointing out the faults in the new building code, the Department of Archaeology had on October 18 last year sent a letter to the metropolis to correct its decision. Similarly, the Kathmandu Valley Development Authority had also sent a letter to the metropolis on January 20, giving it a 15-day ultimatum to correct the metropolis’s building code, citing the metropolis code was going against cabinet decision of September 3,0, 2015, regarding the Urban Planning & Development Act 2072, under Clause 17. However, Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya had said the authority’s letter was beyond its jurisdiction.

Published: 16-02-2019 10:01

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