A lesson to learn now than later


The earthquake that occurred on 25 April was actually long overdue and the government was well aware of it. Had the government given due attention to deal with the earthquake before, today the loss of lives and property could have been reduced to a large extent. Unfortunately the government did not pay any attention to meet a possible disaster one like this. Forget about the villages even Kathmandu the capital city was completely ill prepared. If we see death toll in many rural areas, Kathmandu was lucky enough to escape a major disaster. The way many old and new houses are built in Kathmandu, the city could have seen more deaths than now.

Being surrounded by mountains and high hills from all sides Kathmandu has limited space to extend. It is therefore Kathmandu needs proper city planning so that all constructions can be built systematically. However, the city is built in hotchpotch manner without a plan. Today the city has no proper drainage & sewage system. Its waste management condition is pathetic as garbage is left unattended in several places. Those heaps of garbage emanate unbearable stench which are not only bad for health but also discourage foreign tourists from visiting the country.

In the recent years property dealers and private contractors expedited building construction rampantly. Many buildings were even made illegally after their owners bribed the corrupt engineers and bureaucrats. Even many recently built apartments failed to stand firm in the recent earthquake as many of those apartments have several cracks and not suitable to live in. It is obvious that several buildings in Kathmandu have been built without following building code and safety measures. According to a data compiled by the Ministry of Home Affairs, it states that the major earthquake and aftershocks have damaged over 100,000 buildings and several other houses in the Kathmandu valley. The report further states that many buildings which remain standing are extremely dangerous to live in.

It is so unfortunate that neither government nor did the people in Kathmandu take earthquake disaster very seriously. Many houses which were built for the purpose of giving on rent were the first to see the ground. However, those houses which were built after meeting building code and safety measures successfully bore the jolts and stood proudly. Nature has given one more opportunity to the people of Kathmandu to learn a lesson to build houses which meet building code and safety measures. Who knows when next time a quake jolts the country and epicenter might be right under the Kathmandu valley! If that happens then it is sure death toll will cross over 100,000 in Kathmandu alone.

In Kathmandu about 1500 houses are built annually. The Department of Urban Development says that it does not have enough staffs to check those construction sites whether or not they are following government guidelines. This explanation does not sound realistic. The Kathmandu Metropolitan city does make enough money from taxes. Many of their high ranking officers take bribe and allow people to construct houses openly. This is a truth and nobody can deny this fact. Ultimately the corrupt government is responsible for allowing the construction of buildings without following building code and safety measures.

Natural calamities one like earthquake cannot be averted or even successfully predicted. Until now science is helpless to have any technology that can successfully make prediction about earthquake so that people can be informed before and the accident could be averted. Nature will follow its course of creation and destruction. This is what nature is all about. Earthquake in itself cannot be blamed for the killing of the people and the destruction of property. It does not occur with the intention of killing the people and destroying their property. More deaths are caused due to human error and negligence. We have built concrete slums where many buildings stand without meeting building code and safety measures. Hence, the best way to avert the disaster is to respect nature and follow its course of action. We can make strong houses after paying due attention to possible earthquake in mind and keep our buildings safe from the jolts and also protect the lives.

The final lesson that we should learn from this disaster is not only our buildings should be strong but other things such as electric poles & wires, transformers, underground sewage and drainage, power plants, bridges, dams, etc must be built or installed keeping a powerful earthquake in mind.


LB Thapa is a travel blogger. He is also the author of six books. His books have been published by Nirala Publications, New Delhi, India and Himalayan Maphouse, Kathmandu, Nepal. His book, POKHARA AND ANNAPURNAS has been translated into seven foreign languages. LB Thapa’s books are also available on http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lb+thapa


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