KATHMANDU, May 27: Minister for Urban Development, Ram Kumari Jhakri has said neither the Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) nor the Pokhara Regional International Airport can serve the purpose of the Nijgadh International Airport.
Speaking at an orientation program related to urban development in Kathmandu on Friday, she said although both are international airports, neither can serve the purpose of the Nijgadh International Airport because both of them are destination airports. “The project was supposed to be a game changer and economically benefit the country. We had a dream that it would create a huge business and a group that wants this dream to fail will raise issues of environment, slums and create fear,” she said. “There is huge politics behind it.”
Minister Jhakri mentioned that Nepal needs a good transit airport and it was decided that the Nijgadh Airport was going to be that airport. “Many infrastructures have been built around it for the sole purpose,” she said, adding: “Mass should not be the one to decide on this matter but the people who come to represent them by receiving votes.”
Stating that Nijgadh is a serious project, she said if sufficient investment is made into the project and it is operated in a systematic manner it would be a huge opportunity for us.
There are vested interests of certain groups for not letting Nijgadh Airport to be constructed in Bara. “The group even mulled construction of GBIA and Pokhara Regional Airport to stop the construction of a second international airport,” she added.
Referring to the stay order related to the airport issued by the Supreme Court on Thursday, Jhakri asked if justices and writ petitioners have been influenced from somewhere. “The government will follow the order of the Supreme Court but on what basis was the decision made?” she questioned.
Hearing the writ petition filed by environmental activists and senior advocates, the apex court on Thursday directed the government to find suitable alternatives to build an airport in accordance with the law and legal norms.
Senior advocates Prakash Mani Sharma and Ranju Hajur Pandey had separately filed a writ petition alleging that the construction of the airport in Nijgadh would cause irreparable damage to the environment.