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29 pc of inspected houses in need of repair: NEA chief

  Urges owners not to lose hope‚ as detailed analysis of damage is yet to be done

HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE

KATHMANDU: Dhruba Raj Thapa, President, Nepal Engineers’ Association, has urged the public not to think that all the houses with red stickers should be demolished.

Speaking at an interaction today, Thapa said among the houses with red stickers, only about three to four per cent might be irreparable. “I want to tell the owners of the houses with red stickers not to lose hope at this stage when detailed analysis of the damage is yet to be done,” he added.

NEA has so far inspected over 5,000 houses out of which 51 per cent houses do not have more damage than hairline cracks, said Thapa.

According to him, 29 per cent of the inspected houses needed to be repaired before people could live in their. Thapa said NEA inspectors had marked 18 per cent houses as unsafe, but this result of rapid assessment may change after the detailed analysis and some percentage of house owners might be able to repair their houses.

He said that the NEA had already begun training engineers to enable them to carry out detailed studies of damaged houses and make appropriate recommendations.

Shivhari Sharma, Deputy Director General of the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, said the government needed to demolish 3,000 houses in the Kathmandu Valley, but it lacked expertise and equipment to demolish high-rise buildings.

The government, he added, also needs to seek experts from foreign countries to carry out controlled demolition using chemicals. He said the government agencies were demolishing houses that posed threat to the public, but in the second phase, the government would dismantle the floors that owners had built by flouting the building codes.

Seismic engineer Jitendra Bothara said building codes must be strictly followed, otherwise the country could not avoid human casualties in the event of powerful earthquakes in future.

Bothara said there was knowledge gap among the engineers who designed high-rise buildings in Kathmandu. “Most of the high-rise buildings could escape structural damage, but they have inferior walls that suffered damage,” he said, adding that inferior walls could also kill people.

Yogeshwar Krishna Parajuli, Development Commissioner of Kathmandu Valley Development Authority, said his office would prepare the draft of bylaws relating to open space, land use policy and land pooling.

Rajesh Dhakal, professor of structural and earthquake engineering in Canterbury, New Zealand, said even the buildings that follow building codes can develop cracks due to earthquake but it would be wrong to say that the cracked buildings are damaged. Vice Chancellor of Nepal Academy of Science and Technology Jiba Raj Pokharel said the country should focus on rebuilding citizens’ houses first, but in the second phase, it also needed to focus on reconstructing the damaged heritage monuments.

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