KHOTANG, July 29: Nearly six months after the expiry of the deadline, only 60% of blacktopping work has been completed at the Lamidanda Airport, the oldest airport of Khotang.
As per the agreement, the project which was commissioned on December 2, 2016 should have been completed by January 30, 2018. Locals have accused the sluggish work of the construction company behind the delay. YAN-SAP-Surya Construction JV has been entrusted with the responsibility of blacktopping 520 meter long and 20 meter wide area of total 580 meter long runway of the airport.
The project kicked off with an investment of around Rs 67 million from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN). The company has only completed laying sub-base when it should have been wrapping up the project. Despite signing the project in December 2015, the company had started the work only in April 2016. This has greatly disappointed the locals.
As the deadline expired in January this year, it was extended by seven months. With only two months remaining of the extended deadline, the construction company has intensified the work to finish the project on time.
Jyoti Balami, Site In-charge of Surya Constructions, claimed that the airport will be completely blacktopped within the next two months. "We have already laid the base and are about to start the pitching work," said Balami. However, there are very less chances of completing the job on time, according to the locals.
When asked about the delay, the company blames Lamidanda Rural Municipality for banning the extraction of construction materials from the Dudhkoshi River. It also claims that there were some obstructions posed by the locals while fetching water from the river.
Lamindanda Airport which came into operation in 1972 is the oldest among three airports of Khotang. Currently, the airport has halted it's service due to the ongoing blacktopping work. This airport was largely used by tourists visiting the religious site Halesi.