Blockade, fuel crisis hit permit applicationsNine months after the devastating Gorkha earthquake, building construction in the Capital has failed to pick up pace as expected due to the ongoing Indian blockade and energy crisis.
Nine months after the devastating Gorkha earthquake, building construction in the Capital has failed to pick up pace as expected due to the ongoing Indian blockade and energy crisis.
Earlier, Kathmandu Metropolitan City used to receive 250 to 300 building construction applications per month, but the number has dropped to about 150 now, according to engineer Bir Bahadur Khadka at the KMC’s Urban Development Department. The number has further declined since the beginning of January, he added.
The lull in building construction was obvious in the aftermath of the earthquake last year.
But the fuel crisis triggered by the Indian embargo has resulted in difficulties in procuring construction materials and hiring labour. “Amid uncertainty, several prospective homeowners have put off their plans to start construction,” Khadka said.
Likewise, people who lost their homes to the earthquake also seem reluctant to rebuild their houses. According to official data, a total of 5,227 private houses in Kathmandu metropolis were destroyed by the earthquake, while 18,770 were partially damaged. But government’s unclear policy on reconstruction relief has deterred several individuals. People fear they might be denied the relief amount if they reconstruct their house on their own.
Earlier, the government had decided to provide up to Rs200,000 to those who wish to rebuild houses destroyed by the earthquake on their own. It had also announced to provide Rs2.5 million as special housing loan on low interest rate of 2 percent for quake-affected people in urban areas to reconstruct their houses.
Increased load-shedding hours in the country is another factor affecting the issuance of building permits.
The KMC has introduced electronic building permit system (EBPS) in 14 out of 35 wards of the metropolis.
But the longer power cuts mean those wards are without internet connection, resulting in a further decrease in the number of permits, said Khadka, who also heads the EBPS section.
As succour for earthquake victims, the KMC has provided 75 percent discount on building permit fees for houses destroyed by the earthquake and 25 percent for partially damaged buildings. Houses with built-up area up to 3,000 square feet will be charged Rs20 per square feet and Rs35 for larger houses.
The metropolis is also providing 95 percent discount on building permit renewal fees. Building permits should be renewed if the building is not completed within a year. Officials say that they have provided discount on this service as most homeowners have not been able to complete their houses due to the earthquake and the ongoing fuel crisis.
The number of permit renewals has also dipped to five applications a month from around eight a month. KMC data shows that only 50 percent of construction which began last year have been completed.