KATHMANDU, Jan 15: Coordination among the municipalities of Kathmandu Valley and other authorities concerned and the focus on management activities to reduce earthquake risk have improved in the one and half years since the latest fatal earthquake that Valley folks experienced.
Following the 6.8 Richtar scale earthquake of September, 2011, government and non-government agencies have collaborated on disaster risk reduction.
Earthquake Technology Training Specialist at the National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal (NSET) Bijay Upadhyaya said that 300 masons underwent training in earthquake resistant construction in Kathmandu Valley alone.
NSET had provided 10 different training programs to the masons, following increasing demand for trained manpower since September 2011.
Volunteers are also being prepared for disaster relief. Some 336 people received disaster risk reduction and rescue training to respond to situations like 2011 or worse.
A demonstration of earthquake havoc. (File photo: Keshab Thoker)
Likewise, students of some 500 schools went through drill training on how to be safe during earthquakes. Among the schools, 300 are located in the Valley.
Kathmandu Metropolitan City´s Urban Planning Chief, Uttar Kumar Rai, shares his experience that people have themselves come forward asking KMC officials to visit their construction sites to see if things are going right or not.
“People also come to seek suggestions from our engineers and overseers,” Regmi added.
Newly-constructed and under-construction school building, hospitals, hotels and apartment buildings are under the supervision of the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC), and officials have been active in monitoring construction activities for adherence to the building code.
DUDBC monitored construction sites in coordination with KMC officials and representatives of Lalitpur Sub-metropolitan City and two the municipalities of Bhaktapur, according to officials.
Likewise, earthquake drills and trainings for communities on emergency preparedness planning, which includes guidelines for people to act before, during and after earthquakes, have been taking place.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) also plans to provide training drills to around 200 schools and bring 10,000 teachers under its earthquake safety training by 2014.
The Armed Police Force, which has already set up a disaster management training centre in Kurintar, also conducted special training for police personnel.
Similarly, MoE is retrofitting community schools and stepping up disaster preparedness at educational establishments. The Department of Education has also readied a policy for private and boarding schools
The ministry recently constructed 15 schools designed for earthquake resistence and 50 more such schools are in the pipeline for next year.
In a bid to monitor the status of hospital preparedness for disaster, the Ministry of Health plans to survey 50 hospitals across the country. An initial study by the World Health Organization stated that more than 80 percent of the hospitals and health post were poorly equipped to cope with disaster situations.
A file photo of Dharahara. (Courtesy: NSET)
Meanwhile, non-government organizations are negotiating with government agencies to introduce better standars for new constructions and timely renovations of old physical infrastructure, said Khadga Sen Oli, advocacy officer at NSET.
“We are making plans under a multi-step strategy to respond to hazard,” said Oli. The first one is to check the risk, and second is to reduce risk, make people aware and develop community groups for immediate response.
The magnitude of the earthquake was 8.4 on the Richter scale. Casualty figures were highest for any recorded earthquake in the history of Nepal. A total of 8,519 people lost their lives, 126,355 houses were severely damaged and around 80,893 buildings were completely destroyed in the earthquake.
Inside Kathmandu Valley, a total of Rs 206,500 was spent as relief for the victims from the Earthquake Relief Fund, which was set up by the then king. The victims were also provided with loans for rebuilding their houses. Earthquake volunteers groups were formed to assist in the relief work.
Just one building was destroyed in Nuwakot district.
It was a 6.5 magnitude earthquake. The most affected districts were Baitadi, Bajhang and Darchula in the farwestern region, where 125 people died and 248 were seriously injured. A total of 11,604 houses were destroyed while 13,414 houses were damaged. There was also a heavy loss of livestock.
It was a 6.7 magnitude earthquake. The most affected was Udayapur district in eastern Nepal while some parts of the central region were also affected. A total of 721 people died and 6,553 people were injured while around 65,000 houses were damanged. Twenty-two districts in east Nepal were affected by the earthquake. The total direct loss was estimated at Rs 5 billion.
Central region and Midwestern region were affected. One person died, 11 were injured, 72 houses destroyed, 451 buildings damaged. Loss was estimated at Rs 48.39 million rupees
Midwestern region affected in the earthquake that saw 12 people injured. A total of 623 houses were destroyed while 84,287 buildings were damaged. The loss was estimated at Rs 16.35 million.
Central and Far-western regions were mostly affected while some parts of eastern and western regions were also affected. One person was injured, 196 houses were destroyed and 60 buildings sustained damage. The loss was estimated at Rs 51.29 million.
Farwestern region and some parts of the western and central region were affected. Two people died and three houses were destoryed. The total loss was estimated at Rs 1.32 million rupees
Mohattari district was the most affected. 41 people were injured.
Syangja of western region were affected. One person died and two were injured.
On September 18, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake killed 12 people. Three people were killed in the capital when the compound wall of the British Embassy collapsed.