KATHMANDU, August 15: A panel formed by the government is starting a new feasibility study of the Nijgadh International Airport (NIA) construction from Wednesday. This comes after the Supreme Court (SC) verdict paved a way for the authorities to proceed in a new alignment.
After the SC made public the full text of its verdict on the NIA, the government formed a 10-member panel led by the aviation expert Birendra Bahadur Deuja to carry out necessary study. Jagannath Niraula, Spokesperson of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), said the panel is expected to complete its feasibility study in the next one month.
The study team includes experts of various sectors including Rameshwor Khanal (economist), Surya Raj Acharya (development planning), Sangita Singh (urban development), Prem Bahadur Budha (wild life), Suresh Kumar Ghimire (forest science), Lachhi Singh (sociologist), Krishna Bikram Poudel Chhetri (pilot), Chandra Kant Gyanwali (lawyer) and Mahesh Kumar Basnet (air-route expert).
The construction of the national pride project is in limbo after it was challenged at the court citing the environmental damage that the infrastructure can cause. So far, about Rs 3 billion has already been spent for the purpose of the project development.
The full text of the SC verdict states that the airport could be constructed in an alternative place by carrying out the environmental impact assessment of the site objectively and logically with regard to the suitability of airport construction in accordance with the due legal procedures. Although the previous study shows that around 500,000 trees are needed to be cut for the construction, government authorities have been claiming that it would be far less in number.
The SC has also suggested that the NIA could be constructed in government-owned vacant land by adding private land adjacent to the proposed construction site south of Nijgadh in Bara district or elsewhere. “The construction of the airport should be carried out in a location that is technically suitable and with minimal environmental damage,” reads the SC’s verdict.