KATHMANDU, July 2: Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Saturday directed the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to expedite construction of Nijgadh International Airport. This comes after the Supreme Court (SC) released its full verdict on Wednesday.
After paying a field visit of the proposed site of the mega international airport, Prime Minister Deuba directed the authority concerned to take forward the works to construct the airport with two runways. The development of the proposed airport has courted controversy as a section of people have raised concern about the environmental impact the construction of the second international airport in Nepal would leave in the area.
The apex court in its full text of the verdict has asked the authorities concerned to build the airport only after conducting a proper environmental impact assessment and ensuring that the environmental damage is minimal. The apex court has annulled all government decisions made earlier for the development of a mega international airport in the southern Terai plains.
The environmental and social impact assessment report submitted to the Tourism Ministry in February 2017 showed that there is a need to cut more than 2.4 million trees from the forest area of over 8,000 hectare to build the airport. In September 2019, the government even shortlisted Zurich Airport International AG as a single company to work on a public-private partnership model for the construction of the airport.
The government has already invested over Rs 2 billion in the project, which included around Rs 800 million given in compensation to the project-affected people.
Prime Minister Deuba said the under construction Kathmandu-Terai/Madhesh Expressway and Nijgadh International Airport are interlinked. “The government is committed to complete construction of both the projects,” he added.
A team of top political leaders led by Prime Minister Deuba had reached Nijgadh earlier on Saturday to inspect the proposed site of the construction of the airport. The visit was aimed at getting first-hand information about the progress made so far in terms of the construction of the airport.
Prime Minister Deuba was joined by CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and CPN (Unified Socialist) Chairman Madhav Kumar Nepal and senior government officials during the visit.