“At first they were even unwilling to use bricks in outside walls, but at least they agreed to that,” says Chandra Shobha Dangol, social mobiliser at Khokana’s ward office who admits that the height limit has been difficult to enforce.
To be sure, a house with traditional design is costlier to build than a cement house, and this is why many of the families have not even started rebuilding even five years after the earthquake.
The house of 77-year-old Asta Maya Maharjan was completely destroyed by the earthquake, and she has been living in her relative’s house for the past five years. She says: “Those who have money build houses, we do not have enough money to build a house, let alone a house in the traditional style.”
The government’s Rs300,000 grant does not pay for even a room, and this is why rubble from the earthquake five years ago still lies strewn across both towns. Those who can afford it, have built gleaming 5-6 storey buildings that dwarf nearby shrines.
“People who have money are building homes, people without money cannot build them. It is just the way it is,” says Gyan Bahadur Maharjan, 81, in a tone of resignation as he basked in the sun in front of his family’s new house.