Two-month ban on house design approvalThe government is set to put a two-month ban on approval of designs for new houses and overall constructions.
The Ministry of Local Development will put the ban in place for at least until mid-July as part of its bid to tighten screw on haphazard housing construction.
Concluding that poor implementation of building code has resulted in massive human casualties in recent earthquakes, the ministry is preparing to limit houses within three storeys.
“Before formulating a strict building code, we want to put a halt to approving new designs across the country,” said GopiKhanal, joint-secretary at the ministry. The design restriction would be enforced through new by-laws.
A ‘preliminary understanding’ has been reached among officials from the Ministry of Local Development and Ministry of Urban Development for setting criteria for residential and commercial buildings. The criteria include a provision not to allow public to construct wall above four feet, set maximum permissible limit of houses at three storeys, fix residential and commercial areas for housing and banning haphazard land plotting.
“The decision over banning design approval and limiting house construction will be taken within a couple of days. It will be institutionalised by formulating by-laws,” said Khanal.
Officials from the two ministries are holding discussions over finalising criteria for building construction.
Some of the local authorities have enforced the provision of banning approval of designs at least for two months in initial phase before the ministry’s instruction. “We have temporarily halted approval of designs for new houses and it will be continued at least until mid-July,” said Gyanedra Karki, chief of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s Environment and Management Department.
Karki said only those houses with approved design would be allowed to construct for now. Thousands of designs are cleared in a year. “Over 4,000 new designs are approved for construction annually in Kathmandu district alone,” said Karki.
Concerned over rampant land plotting for residential and commercial purposes, the government in November last year imposed ban on fragmentation of property without prior consent from local authorities—Village Development Committee, District Development Committee and Municipality. “The directive was not enforced effectively,” conceded Khanal, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Local Development. “But now the people seem more aware about their safety and we have to enforce earthquake safety construction strictly.”