Kaski, March 26: Ninety three percent construction of the Pokhara Regional International Airport has been completed, according to project officials.
The Chinese construction company CAMCE will hand over the infrastructure of the airport to Nepali authorities following the completion of its main construction work and mechanical connection. The project is under-construction with the concessional loan of Rs 22 billion from the Exim Bank of China.
It has been decided to hand over the project infrastructure to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) symbolically today itself coinciding with the visit of Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Nepal, according to Project Chief Binesh Munakarmi.
According to Munakarmi, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang will hand over the 'symbolic key' of the project to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers this evening. At the same time, Minister for Tourism Prem Bahadur Ale will present a letter of appreciation to the Chinese construction company at the project site in Pokhara. The handover follows the proposal of the construction company to hand over the project coinciding with the Chinese Foreign Minister’s Nepal visit. The main works of the airport runway, terminal building, air traffic control (ATC) building, 14 different buildings and taxiways have been completed.
Senior officer of the airport project, Sabin Phuyal said that all the main works of the airport have been completed and only some general works are left. The government plans to bring the airport into operation within this year. “Runway, terminal building, connection of mechanical equipment, lights and other major works have been completed. All that remains is fencing, passenger body builds, and some general drainage work. It won't take long now. ”
Even though the main work of the project has been completed as per the agreement with the construction company, there are still problems in getting the airport ready for operation. According to the project, the management of the landfill site, flattening the Rithepani hill to the east of the airport and the work of the fuel station have not started yet. Although the paperwork for the rest of the work has moved forward, it is yet to be approved.
The Council of Ministers had earlier approved the Environmental Impact Assessment Report with two preconditions for submitting a supplementary report and concluding an agreement with the forest department. The supplementary report has been submitted to the Ministry of Forest and Environment and is in the process of approval, said Phuyal. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, the hill has to be cut for the safety of flight and landing.
Despite an agreement to complete and hand over the work in 2021, the work at the airport was affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Hence, last year, the deadline was extended by another year.