Concrete lessons of 2015 | Nepali Times

Adds Shrestha: “Retrofitting public buildings should be the topmost priority now, it is the best cost-effective solution for a seismically active and resource limited country like ours. So in the next 10-15 years, we must take up a campaign to continually retrofit schools across Nepal.”

The fact that most reinforced concrete structures survived the 2015 earthquake convinced Nepalis that cement houses are stronger. As the road network expands, cement has now reached the remotest parts of Nepal – but experts warn that if the raw materials do not meet quality standards and proper construction methods are not followed, concrete structures can be even more dangerous in an earthquake. 

“Cement and concrete have given people a false sense of security after 2015,” says Anil Pokhrel of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA). “We have to enforce building codes through the municipalities by giving them clear roles, technical know-how, and financial and human resources.”

Indeed, the Authority is getting ready for the next big earthquake by spending Rs350 million to buy rescue equipment for collapsed concrete structures, and training Armed Police Force (APF) and Nepal Army on how to use them. 

Public misconception about concrete, coupled with people forgetting the horror of 25 April 2015, has led to haphazard growth and construction in Kathmandu Valley. It is not earthquakes that kill people, but poorly built houses.

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