Kathmandu, November 16: Though the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) suggested retrofitting the partially damaged houses after 2015 earthquake, the public is unaware of it.
Only 10 percent out of 62,000 beneficiaries under retrofitting list has signed agreement for grants. Anil Maharjan of Godavari Municipality in Lalitpur does not know any more about retrofitting. “I have heard the terminology of retrofitting but I don’t understand the real meaning,” he said.
Ratna Keshari Deshar of Godavari Municipality-11 is also unaware about retrofitting. Not only the ordinary people but also the elected representatives are unaware of the retrofitting concept.
The elected representatives of local bodies in Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts admit that they don’t have sufficient knowledge about retrofitting. Anjana Devi Madhikarmi, deputy mayor of Madhyapur Thimi Municipality, Bhaktapur, said that she does not have enough knowledge about retrofitting. “I have heard that retrofitting makes old houses stronger,” she said. “Majority of people who received grants are unknown about retrofitting.”
Krishna Prajapati, chairman of Ward no 7, complained that no budget was given to his ward for retrofitting. Ganga ram Dangol, chairman of Ward No 7 and Rajendra Maharjan, member of Ward No 3 of Kirtipur Municipality admitted that they were not enough taught about retrofitting.
“Not enough knowledge about retrofitting has been shared,” said Maharjan. “It is necessary to repair damaged or cracked houses to make worth living.” Though retrofitting is necessary, it has not been used due to lack of knowledge, said Muna Adhikari, deputy mayor of Godavari Municipality. “I repaired my house but I do not have knowledge of retrofitting,” she said.
Darshan Bista, Chairman of Ward No 10, said that the stakeholders are deprived of Rs. 100,000 grants for retrofitting. “It is costlier sometimes,” he said. “There is lack of technical knowledge.”
Manohar Adhikari, NRA information officer, said that retrofitting is a method of repairing damaged or cracked houses to make them safe and worth living.
According to him, the list of retrofitting beneficiaries includes 61,891 households. Among them only, 11,473 households have signed agreement yet, he said.
Technical engineer Bimala Dangol, who was assigned under NRA in Godavari Municipality, said that there are five grades of retrofitting from 1 to 5. “Only grades 1, 2 and 3 can be retrofitted,” she said. “If up to 30 percent of cost can manage it, retrofitting is recommended for damaged or cracked houses. It can take two to six months to retrofit a house.”
It costs higher to build a new home but old house can be revived by spending some, she said. “If it exceed 30 percent of cost, building new home is better,” she added. “It should be maintained to tackle the earthquake.”
Dangol suggests that making only two story building of earthen wall. The construction of new buildings instead of retrofitting for cultural homes has been also found damaging the traditional values, the experts worry. “We felt that the villages are losing their originalities.”
Another technician Jina Shrestha said that stone-mud houses also can be retrofitted. “Cement, rod and wires can be used for jacketing them,” she said.
According to the NRA, each of the retrofitting beneficiaries gets Rs. 100,000 in two installments, each of Rs. 50,000 as per recommendation from the experts.
NRA information officer Manohar Ghimire said that the stakeholders are attracted to grants of Rs 300,000 for new houses instead of retrofitting. “We need to study on vulnerability assessment before retrofitting as per the condition of houses,” he said.
Earthquake resistant capacity, beam, pillar, foundation and floors are studied. Retrofitting can be adopted by using existing methods in some cases. The available material in local areas can be used in rural areas while cement and rod can be used for retrofitting in urban areas.
By Nabin Luitel in hakahakionline.com