Integrated Settlements


Parmeshwar Devkota

Geologists claim that Nepal lies in the seismically active region. So, earthquakes, small or big, are regular phenomena in the country. An earthquake happens when the seismic energy is released to the surface of the earth suddenly. As the quake hits certain part of the earth, its surface and structures on it begin shivering because it is the course shifting the tectonic plates deep below in the crust.

The countries which sit on the fault-lines are vulnerable to earthquakes. Like Nepal, Japan is also prone to quake in this region. But, the difference is that Japan bears no heavy losses even in high magnitude earthquakes. Japanese are so confident and fearless that they do not run away from their houses even when major shocks and after-shocks hit them. Nor do they face huge devastation. We should take our cues from their quake-resilient structures. 

Nepal has incurred heavy loss of lives and property in the recent years. The 7.8 magnitude Gorkha earthquake in 2015 killed over nine thousand people, injured over twenty-one thousand and destroyed property worth billions, including scores of heritage sites in and around Kathmandu Valley. As the country was making final efforts to forget the impacts of that devastating earthquake, it has rocked Jajarkot and Rukum West in Karnali Province recently. 

At the mid-night of November 3, 2023, an earthquake of 6. 4 magnitude, having epicenter at Ramidanda in Barekot Rural Municipality, Jajarkot,  hit the province, killing 155 people and destroying nine thousand four hundred houses completely. If newspaper reports are to be believed, the earthquake affected over one million people, out of which over two-hundred thousand need humanitarian assistance for longer period of time. Had the same magnitude quake struck any part of Japan, what would have been scale of destruction? In my opinion, negligible. It shows that the Japanese people have superior technology, commitment and courage to cope with an earthquake. 

To become as confident as Japanese people, we should move forward step by step. Firstly, we have to learn from their experiences and technology while constructing houses to the recent earthquake victims. Second, they should not start constructing houses by clearing the rubbles; rather, they should select new locations which are plain and free from the risk of landslides and other hazards. Third, they should construct the integrated settlements which should include health facilities, public schools, open space, transport and other basic facilities.

Fourth, they should discourage constructing a single house in far-off sites. The hamlets look good only to tourists, but they are not easily accessible for the inhabitants in many ways.  It is hard to supply water and electricity in the far-flung areas. The children can be deprived of taking regular classes in the schools. And, a laborious farmer cannot bring his/her produce in the market.  So, the leaders should focus on constructing integrated settlements in the plain areas of affected districts.   

If they build permanent structures with the help of new construction materials and advanced technology by overcoming the past short-comings, the whole world will judge that the Nepali leaders and political parties are committed to the nation building task. Additionally, since the quake-hit province is home to many apex leaders of ruling parties, the reconstruction drive will test their commitment to the people. 

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