Kathmandu, May 10:
Over one lakh illegal buildings of the capital will be "legitimatised" soon, thanks to some money-seeking ward chairmen and rumour of nearing local election. A dozen "enthusiastic" ward chairmen are putting pressure in the municipal councils for time so that all the illegal houses in the city are made to pay fat fines. These illegal houses were constructed either by overlooking the regulations or by paying bribes to municipal staff. The concerned officials at Kathmandu Metropolitan City admit that as many as 70 percent of the total number of houses is constructed illegally. Among them, 50 percent are totally against the law while others have made minor changes, which are tolerable. Around 4,000 houses are built in the city each year and it is estimated that there are 180,000 houses in the city, though KMC itself does not have exact data of the houses.
Keshav Dwaj Rana, newly-appointed ward 9 chairman has taken the illegal construction around the city as a major source of income. "We cannot demolish the illegal constructions in the city. So, it is better if we make them all legal, and collect revenue which we need to as election is nearing us," he proposed to the board. Mayor Keshav Sthapit, is said to be “impressed” by the idea and has formed a committee to recommend on this. The team is yet to give green signal to the plan.
Indra MS Suwal, the chief of Urban Development Department and the coordinator of the team, looks cautiously at the proposal. He said that the political decision might boomerang KMC in long term. He said that the decision may give clean chits to wrongdoers but it would not be technically justifiable. "KMC will has to be responsible if such faulty constructions collapse or cause damage to life and property to others," Suwal said.
The recent plan in KMC has created a big fury among the urban planners and seismologists. "It is suicidal. If the KMC makes such a ridiculous change, putting the live of millions in danger, it should be condemned," said Bharat Sharma, senior urban planner and former deputy chief of Department of Urban Development. He said that instead of implementing the Building Code, KMC is regularising all the crimes of the citizens in the petty interest of some revenue," he said.
Similarly, Amod Mani Dixit, the secretary at National Society of Earthquake Technology Nepal said that the regularisation process only promotes others to construct more illegal houses.
"The vulnerability will be there either KMC regularises the illegal houses or not. And it would promote more illegal constructions and those who had followed the regulation would feel being cheated," Dixit said.
[ KATHMANDU, MAY 11, 2004, Baisakh 29, 2061 ]