05/19/2015, 00.00
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Nepal: corruption and unauthorized building behind the massacre of the "Great Earthquake"

by Christopher Sharma
Nearly 90 percent of the buildings in the capital damaged; 80 per cent high risk. Construction of new buildings blocked for two months as regulations re-written. By law buildings higher than two stories illegal.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Almost 90% of the buildings in Kathmandu were damaged by the "great earthquake", and of these 80% are classified as "high risk". Given that the population currently cannot live there, the government of Nepal has ordered a stop to all construction projects of buildings more than two stories high. Businesses that do not comply will see their buildings demolished. For now the ban will remain in place for at least two months, until the authorities formulate a new set of building regulations, which should be presented and implemented by mid-July.

Som Lal Subedi, secretary of the Ministry for Local Development, explains: "The temporary ban was made necessary for reasons of public security. The current regulation for the building dates to 1990 and does not meet current threats which have arisen with this earthquake. "

The official stressed that Nepal will no longer have multi-storey public or private buildings. In addition to slashing construction height to two-stories, the government wants to tear down walls that line sidewalks, which during the earthquake represented a risk to pedestrians.

According to some agencies, the serious damage caused by the quake is attributable to violations of the current building code. Many companies built high rise blocks with too many floors without obtaining permission from the authorities, using inferior materials or without first analyzing the soil composition. The code in fact does not allow buildings higher than two and a half floors, but it is not uncommon to find buildings that exceed 18 stories.

However, many experts accuse the authorities  themselves of having violated the code, pocketing bribes to allow some companies to close an eye to the rules.

Meanwhile, the National Association of engineers have advised the President, Prime Minister and other ministers to leave the government offices, because even the buildings in which they are housed have suffered serious damage, and are no longer safe.

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