EDITORIAL: Regulate real estate
The government agencies should not do anything that may go counter to the building code and other related regulations
The tragic incident that took place in Taukhel of Lalitpur on Friday when a wall fell on a school killing two young students and injured around 24 others has sounded the alarm bell.
This accident happened due to the recklessness of the land plotter.
According to the reports, the wall was built without adhering to the building code for walls. Apart from the lack of its solid construction, the height of the wall was well above the maximum height for walls specified by the government.
Although we have such a code for various structures these are not strictly adhered to and taken lightly as a result of which many houses are built by private individuals on their own without getting the approval of the authorities to construct such buildings.
Therefore, the guilty responsible for the calamity in the school should be brought to book after carrying out the necessary investigations.
Several such incidents killing and injuring people have occurred over the years due to the collapsing of tall walls that were not built according to the code.
These days the lucrative real estate is taking place in a hazardous manner by throwing all caution to the winds. Moreover it is regrettable these days to observe the risky purchase and plotting of particularly big land plots.
The need to regulate and formulate the real estate sector is of utmost importance. There is also growing concern about the increasing fragmentation of fertile land and unplanned urbanisation.
It is believed that three per cent of the homes in the Kathmandu Valley are constructed by private sector developers.
There should be strict provisions in the law that would allow only competent companies to develop land plots according to strict and specific criteria, otherwise, it will continue to put in danger the lives of people, encourage unscrupulous people to cheat buyers and sellers without accountability, deprive the government of much tax revenue, mar the beauty of the landscape, make the structures prone to natural disasters, etc.
Land has been divided into agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial, among others and also the risk-prone areas. Construction works in such land should be closely monitored and action taken when deviations occur.
There should be regulations that permit only licensed and registered companies, not every individual, to deal in the buying and selling of real estate. Many of the blue-prints of the houses and other structures are approved without meeting all the set criteria through undue influence, pecuniary or otherwise.
Following the major earthquakes that hit the country more than a year ago, the government has come up with a revised building code, which specifies, among other things, the minimum area of the plot of land, the spaces to be left open on the sides of the house, the width of the road etc. leading to the house, etc.
But the land revenue offices of the government pass the registration of even those plots of land which cannot meet these specifications.
This irresponsible action has only endangered the investment of buyers in small plots of land that fall short of the building code. The government agencies should not do anything that may go counter to the building code and other related regulations.
Plastic bags are the major source of pollution and blocking the drainage system in the city areas where consumers use them widely because they are easily available.
In a bid to control the use of plastic bags which are below 40 microns the government had introduced a ban on the use of plastic bags in April 2015.
But it could not be implemented in the city areas except in the Singha Durbar premises. Nor has the government been able to impose the ban on the manufacturers of plastic bags.
Plastic manufacturers have accused the government of imposing the ban on it without giving them an alternative to their business.
Around 200 plastic bag factories that produce seven metric tons of plastic bags daily were to be shut down if the ban were to be strictly followed.
Businessmen and consumers will easily shift to other non-pollutant products such as jute/paper/cloth bags if the government gives suitable alternatives to the producers along with attractive incentives like exemption of customs duty on import of non-pollutant raw materials.
A version of this article appears in print on July 05, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.