Passengers of Sudur Paschim hit by obstruction of flights

Dhangadhi Airport yet to resume operations

Published On: June 8, 2019 08:34 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Dhangadhi, June 7: Dhangadhi Airport, the only regularly functioning airport of Sudur Paschim Province, has remained shut for over a month. 

The resulting interruption of flights has caused problems to the locals of the region, and it has adversely affected business and tourism activities. 

The locals who need to fly to bigger cities like Kathmandu for immediate health care are the hardest hit.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) paid no heed to locals' requests to not stall flights, and issued a notice to shut the airport from May 5 through June 4 for upgrading and maintenance. As the work is yet to be finished, flights remain stalled. 

The locals and residents of the province are facing a multitude of problems every day due to the closure of the airport. 

"Other airports are maintained without disturbing regular flights. CAAN just disregarded our requests," Puspa Kunwar, chairman of Kailali Chamber of Commerce and Industry said. "The extension of deadline for the completion of airport is an injustice to the people of Sudur Paschim."

Dhangadhi Airport Project Chief, Ratan Kumar Shrestha, had said that the maintenance work will be completed in 20 days. However, he claimed that the deadline had to be extended as more work had to be done than the estimate.

"Earlier we were only planning to work on the 850-meter-long runway, but now we have to dig four and half feet below the ground to extend the length of the runway.  This has been delaying the work," he said.

Chief of Dhangadhi Airport, Tej Bahadur Bud Thapa, said that the airport will be closed till June 11. "We have already circulated notice about the new date," he said. Gopal Hamal, former executive member of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said it was a careless move of the government to close the only airport of the province. 

"We haven't heard of airport being closed elsewhere for maintenance work," he said, adding: "The government has extended the deadline thinking that the people of Sudur Paschim won't speak up against it."

A budget of Rs 170.88 million has been allocated for the maintenance and blacktopping of the airport.


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