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Building Code Implementation in Dharan Municipality

Risk Reduction/ Earthquake/Pre-disaster

Dharan, Sunsari


Dharan is one of the municipalities which have effectively implemented the building code in recent years.

It took almost a decade for Dharan to recover from the effect of the devastation caused by the 1988 earthquake of 6.5 Magnitude. The quake left behind questions like: what are the major problems in the current construction practice? How can this poor construction practice be changed into a good construction practice?

Further the study carried out under the Dharan Earthquake Risk Management Project (DERMP) implemented by NSET outlined the aftermath of the probable earthquake and the vulnerability scenario of the municipality. It showed that almost 60% of the municipal area is expected to bear a damage of MMI IX scale and almost 40% of the area is expected to bear a damage of MMI VIII scale. It also showed that 40% of the total building stock could be damaged and severe effect in critical lifeline facilities.

This made Dharan Municipality to come up with the strategies towards minimizing the existing risk in the municipality such as; conduct series of trainings and awareness programs and Implement building code as soon as possible.

On the occasion of Earthquake Awareness Day on August 22, 2007 (Bhadra 5, 2064 B.S.), Dharan municipality in the presence of government officials and all the stakeholders announced its plan to implement NBC in all of its building permit process.

The first year of implementation of building code was mainly focused on the improvement of municipal drawings submitted by the client for building permit purpose. The municipality was mainly focused on submission of detailing rather than calculations and main emphasis was given on the implementation of Category C (MRT) of the Code. The second year of implementation of building code was focused on field implementation. The municipalities made several requests and appeals to the people for constructing safer buildings. Several mobile clinics were also conducted.

To speed up the process, municipality brought about the Licensing system to the local builders and masons in the third year of implementation of building code. Receiving a 4 days earthquake resistant construction training conducted by the municipality was a pre-requisite for the local builders and masons to be qualified for the professional license issued by the municipality.

In order to make a check on the system the municipality enforced punishment system to those local builders and masons who tend to ignore the provisions of building code. The punishment system was divided into 4 levels.

1. Warning if found ignoring the provisions of building code deliberately for the first time.

2. Suspending for a period of 2 months if the same person is found ignoring the provisions of building code deliberately for the second time

3. Blacklisting and making it public if the same person is found guilty of ignoring the provisions of building code deliberately for the third time

4. Delisting from the municipal list and cancelling the license if the same person is found guilty of ignoring the provisions of building code deliberately for the fourth and final time.

Further to motivate those local builders and masons who are doing well and following the building code  a provision of reward  was made. Annually on the occasion of the Earthquake Awareness Day they were rewarded with a cash prize, certificate and their names are made public.

These efforts led to the establishment of Separate unit for Building code and Earthquake Safety within the organizational framework of the municipality. Drastic positive change in building drawings has been seen which has been replicated in one or the other way in the field as well. Almost all the new houses (nearly 75%) have been constructed following most of the criteria of NBC. Involvement of masons and technicians in building construction has increased due to their involvement in building permit system and licensing system. Follow-up even after the issuing the permit has made the house-owners stick to the drawings to the drawings. Professional Associations of masons, contractors and consultant technicians have been formed.


•  To effectively implement the building code in Dharan municipality

•  To reduce the earthquake risk in Dharan Municipality


Residents of Dharan Municipality and the surrounding area


•  MRT should be more elaborated and extended to other cases

•  Implementation of Mandatory Rule of Thumb (MRT) in the least should be confirmed by Ministry of Local Development (MoLD) by introducing it in Minimum Conditions Performance Measures (MCPM)

•  Support from government and other bodies is necessary to sustain the program

•  Screening and selection should be done prior giving   trainings to local  masons

•  Promotional scheme to local masons and contractors should be introduced

•  Submission of Design Calculations should be made compulsory for Category BB Buildings

•  Submission of Stress and Eccentricity calculation should be made compulsory for Category CC Buildings

•  Competency in structural designing for the consultants should be increased giving computer aided designing trainings like SAP

•  Due attention to Retrofitting should be given along with the new constructions for old cities like Dharan


•  High Replication Potential

•  Building Code Implementation in Nepal is not so easy due to various factors. However, it could be accomplished and as well replicated if there is a good coordination between the implementing agencies and the stakeholders as in the case of Dharan Municipality.



Dharan Municipality

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