The government has directed all the district-level authorities including District Development Committees and municipalities to identify open spaces for effective post-disaster response and management.
Early this week, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development sent a circular to authorities at the local level to designate public, declared and open areas to handle the aftermath of disasters including earthquake .
The ministry has also asked the authorities to officially declare open spaces in their areas and make information available for the public. “Empty spaces or safer areas are fundamental parts of post-disaster management,” said Amod Mani Dixit, executive director of the Nepal Society for Earthquake Technology.
“Any disaster can cause a huge humanitarian crisis and finding out safer areas having no any construction or infrastructure is crucial to help survivors in the disaster aftermath,” he said.
Experts predict that an earthquake of higher intensity (8.3 magnitude) could kill at least 100,000 people, destroy 60 percent of buildings and leave thousands injured in the Valley.
For instance, when a powerful quake jolts the country, thousands would be left injured, lost and trapped under the rubble and will need immediate rescue and medical care, along with humanitarian assistance.
“Availability of open spaces in a city will allow them to gather the required support from authorities,” said Shambhu KC, director general at the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction.
Considering seismic-related threats along with other disaster risks including fires, the Home Ministry in 2013 identified 83 open spaces or safe areas to aid rescue and rehabilitation during major disasters. Authorities have prevented infrastructure development on and encroachment of the designated open spaces in Kathmandu Valley.
Other efforts being made in seismically-prone areas are strengthening the capacity and structural advancement of the airport in Kathmandu, setting up one warehouse in each development region, formulation of directives focusing on debris management and establishment of emergency operation centres.