Conference: Implementation of the rural building rules and regulations is one of the most confused areas engineers in the dzongkhags are facing currently.

While the rule allows only two-storey buildings in the rural areas, construction requires a structural drawing, which is expensive for most people. Also, dzongkhag administrations are facing shortage of engineers and architects.

This was one of the issues raised during the engineering coordination meeting in Gelephu yesterday. The meeting is being attended by all the dzongkhag and drungkhag engineers.

Dzongkhag engineer of Chukha, Tshering Chophel, said without a proper drawing they could not approve the construction. However, construction of two-storey houses, except near the highways, is allowed after studying the proposal. “If we strictly go by the rules and regulations, no villagers can afford to construct a house,” he said.

Engineers from Sarpang said that so long as people stick to traditional architecture, construction of two-storey houses should be allowed.  The engineers sought clarification between a RCC structure and a traditional two-storey load bearing structure.

Works and human settlement secretary, Phuntsho Wangdi, said that idea behind coming up with rural building rules is to retain traditional appearance of houses and also to ensure that houses are disaster resistant.

He added that if possible all two-storey structures should be built with local materials. “In rural areas, we’re now settled once and for all to two storey houses…There would be nothing to call ‘rural’ in the future if we do not have such rules.”

Increasing number of audit observations or issuance of memos is another issue bothering engineers in the dzongkhags. Most of the memos were issued for work related to community contract, gewog development grant utilization, excess payment, liquidated damage and awarding of contract to abnormally low bidder that resulted in non-completion of work.

Audit observations were also issued for utilization of balance central saving budget and outstanding of advances, where 70 percent of budget outlay in the dzongkhags is for construction.

Engineers will come up with top five issues in the dzongkhags and recommend solutions.

Director of engineering service division, Tenzin, said the meeting will focus on three main thematic issues –building compliance that needs discussion between the ministry and dzongkhags, flood protection programmes and transfer of engineers.

Participants also discussed Water Safety Plan and how to manage urban water supply system, assessment of buildings after earthquake and the role of engineers during catastrophies.

“We’ll identify and prioritize the top five challenges being faced by engineers in the dzongkhags,” said Tenzin. “The ministry will give special priority to resolve these critical challenges within a year.”

The two-day meeting will end today.

Nirmala Pokhrel, Gelephu