Of the 16 apartment buildings assessed by government teams so far, 11 have been declared “unsafe” for immediate use while four have been marked “safe”.
The Department of Urban Development and Building (DUDB) that has been carrying out safety assessment of high-rise apartments said Indreni Apartment and Bhat Bhateni Apartment at Bhatbhateni, Oriental Apartment at Dhapasi and TCH Towers at Panipokhari got minor damage from the April 25 earthquake and are safe for stay.
The Park View Horizon Apartment in Dhapasi, according to the DUDB, is the worst hit by the Great Earthquake and needs detailed investigation. According to the DUDB, 11 apartments have “cracks on wall”.
“Of the 16 apartments, there is need for in-depth investigation at one, four are safe while there are several cracks in 11 apartment units,” said Sagar Krishna Joshi, divisional engineer at the DUDB.
The department, which has not done a structural study of the quake-hit apartments, said the current inspection is only to see if the apartments are safe for habitation. “It will take us another week to complete the monitoring of all the apartments in Kathmandu.”
Once the high-rise buildings are checked, the team will start studying individual homes built by private developers. The structural study will be conducted by a third party, said the DUDB.
Almost all the high-rises have sustained multiple cracks in the magnitude 7.9 tremor. The 32 apartment buildings in the Valley house more than 4,000 families, according to the Nepal Land and Housing Developers Association.
Joshi said the buildings that have cracks on the walls might be safe though there has been no study on the overall structure. “Our final report will be more specific,” said Joshi.
Engineering Seismologist Deepak Chaulagain said multi-storeyed apartments suffered cracks due to “developers’ negligence”. “They should have conducted seismic analyses to see if a high-rise apartment could have been built in a certain location,” he said.
Housing developers, however, have termed the damage as “cosmetic” claiming that there are no structural damages. “Cracks are only from the first to fifth floors,” claimed a developer. The fact that the apartments were not flattened shows they can sustain tremors up to 7.9 magnitude, he said.
The government has mobilised six teams comprising six members for conducting “rapid post-disaster damage assessment” of buildings in Kathmandu. They have been assigned to find the safety status of the government buildings inside Singha Durbar, the ministerial residence in Pulchowk, offices and residences of the President, the Vice President, the prime minister and other top officials, public enterprises, hospitals in Kathmandu and bank buildings. The teams inspecting apartments has eight experts from the side of private sector developers.