Friday, September 08, 2000

1/3 houses in KMC illegal

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Sept 7 - One third of the total mushrooming buildings in the capital city are illegal as they are not approved by the municipality. Kathmandu Municipal Corporation (KMC) claims that even among the two third of the buildings under-construction that have acquired formal approval, many have not followed the exact blue print they have registered with the office.

According to Devendra Dangol, a senior municipal engineer, only about 3100 applications have registered planned map in his office, whereas once third of that number start construction without bothering to follow any official procedure.

Even the houses with proper authorization do not care to amend their maps if they wish to add a room or two here or there. The officials add that a few daring ones even add a storey or two more than stipulated in their original maps.

"Majority of the houses built in the city are in contrary to the blue prints they produce to acquire permission for the building from the metropolis office," claims Ganesh Dhoj GC, legal officer in Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC).

GC considers the trend as a negligence fuelled due to lack of stern action against the defaulters. However, despite being aware of illegal constructions, KMC’s hands are legally bound. They can do nothing until any affected party lodges a complain. Though the number of such complains are meagre, "the complains on unauthorised construction occupy over 75 percent of all sorts of complains together," he added.

KMC’s actions are always prompted by the complains made by defaulters’ neighbours. However, the legal procedure is so clumsy and time consuming that any building or structure completes by the time even when a decree to halt the construction is issued.

KMC’s office has now stacks of such default cases which are either not pursued or not solved. There are cases since the last one decade languishing in old files of the office. Not only KMC, Kathmandu Valley Town Development Implementation Committee (KVTDIC) also has the authority to drag the wrongdoers to the court, halt construction works and even demolish illegal structures. The similar rights to two different organizations is also making the issue "everybody’s responsibility" and being neglected in many cases by the both parties.

"Unless the contradictory acts are amended or a coordination method is developed, we can’t completely change this ugly cityscape." says Suresh P Acharya, town controller of KVTDIC. Coordinator of Kathmandu Valley Mapping Programme Padma Sundar Joshi said the problem lies in the policy. "Instead of dividing the valley into more sectors and thus dividing authorities, the whole valley should be united and the government should devise a grand plan for better housing policies," he said.

However, there is a light in the tunnel. Days are coming when buildings will be made only under a widely planned ‘Building Codes’. Deputy Director General of Urban Development and Building Works Purna Kadariya said discussion with Ministry for Law to implement the ‘Building Codes’ developed in 1994 under UNDP’s assistance is about to complete. "Regulating the urban housing is a long process and it needs different components like electricity, drinking water, drainage telephone etc. Now, building code is being implemented shortly which will regulate the buildings at affordable expense," he says.
[Kathmandu Friday September 08, 2000 Bhadra 23, 2057.]