KTM’s Road-Widening Increases Seismic Risk

Photo source: Ekantipur.com
Photo source: Ekantipur.com

The large-scale road-widening project across Kathmandu is taking place in full swing and considering the capital city being one of the most seismically active cities in the world, the ongoing campaign has placed hundreds more buildings at risk of collapse in the event of an earthquake as warned by experts.

According to Dilip Kumar Jha, vice-president of the Nepal Engineers’ Association, since many buildings have been partially demolished to make room for the roads, they are twice as likely to collapse during an earthquake and engineers are very concerned about this matter.

International disaster experts agree. Moira Reddick, coordinator of the Nepal Risk Reduction Consortium (NRRC) says it’s evident that if half of a building is bulldozed, it won’t be as safe as before.

According to the National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal (NSET), 60 percent of all residential buildings in the Nepalese capital are already at risk of collapse due to faulty construction.

Experts have long expressed concern over current building practices in Kathmandu; with many predicting a major earthquake in the near future. Nepal has had nine major earthquakes roughly every 75 years since 1255 AD. The last one in 1934, flattened Kathmandu, killing 8,000 and destroying 20 percent of the city’s buildings.

Government plans to widen roads to ease traffic congestion got under way in 2012. The scheme aims to build or widen about 187km of roads in the Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts of Kathmandu Valley. Some 105km have already been completed.

Building owners who have encroached (often 3-5 metres) on public land have been given one month to reduce the size of their buildings or face demolition.

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