-S. SIERRA, KATHMANDU
In a very short duration of carrying the responsibility of a minister from 16 March 2018 until his death on 27 February 2019, Tourism Minster Rabindra Adhikari had assigned and completed a lot of aviation developmental activities and initiatives to uplift the standard of Aviation of the country.
He was very dedicated in uplifting standard of the only international airport TIA of Nepal as well as upgrading the remote airports of Nepal and he even made a lot of initiations in establishing new airports inside the country.
Unfortunately, he passed away while doing his duty, when he was returning Kathmandu after having studied the feasibility report for construction of new airport in Chuhandanda of Terathum. The previous day he had inspected the runway of TIA which is soon going to be blacktopped. The blacktopping of the runway is getting done after 44 years of reconstruction in 1975 only under his initiative.
Minister Adhikari had progressed his 100 days’ strategic plan to bring a maximum positive change in the aviation and tourism industry of the country. Some of his contributions to the Nepalese Aviation industry that are exemplary are:
-Rehabilitation of TIA Runway
The rehabilitation of runway of the airport is going to be initiated from April 1st 2019 (Chaitra 18). Minister Adhikari made a visit just a day before the crash to reassure any requirement for the rehabilitation of the runway. The project is set to end by June 2019 (Jestha 2076). Now only his vision remains, and he is no more with us to see the blacktopping initiated. His demise has created a space in Nepalese Aviation that can never be recovered.
-Attempts to eradicate Nepal from blacklist
Minister Adhikari had made a lot of attempts to eradicate name of Nepal from the EU Blacklist. He was continuously working for it. In his short work period he had team from Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTA) in a meeting with International Civil Aviation organization (ICAO) on October 4 to discuss about progress made by Nepal’s aviation sector. Minster Adhikari had informed EU Ambassadors about the improvement on aviation sector of Nepal and also stated about efforts made to improve on aviation sector as per EU suggestion. He also urged EU delegates to withdraw Nepal from the blacklist so as to aid in making ‘Visit Nepal year-2020’ successful.
Construction of GBIA
Minister Adhikari was very close with the construction progress of Gautam Buddha International Airport; he had spent a lot of his precious time on making sure the airport construction being varied out smoothly and within the time frame. He had inaugurated the construction work of cargo building, which is an important part of the airport. He had directed to speed up the construction work to complete 4 months earlier before deadline and announced to provide bonus to the contractor if the construction work is completed within time-frame.
Attempts to establish new Air Routes
Minister Adhikari had conducted a formal meeting at the ministry and urged the ambassador of China, Ms. Yanqi to provide AOC as fast as possible to flag carrier of the country Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC). NAC is in process to operate 3 flights weekly in Guangzhou, China. It has already appointed Beijing Longway International Travel Service for GSA for conducting flight to Guangzhou.
Operation hours of TIA extended
The only international airport of the country is expected to be operational for 24 hours after completion of necessary runway renovation work initiated by Minister Adhikari. The airport is operational now for 21 hours daily from 18 hours daily under his initiative.
Night flight initiated in Jhapa
Minister Adhikari had inspected the Chandragadhi airport located at Jhapa that had completed the runway lights installation under initiative of him. The airport is now conducting night flights after the installation of airport lights.
Tourism Year 2020
Minister Adhikari was positive about reaching their aim of around bringing around 2 million tourists for Tourism Year 2020 and thus was looking forward to bring every airports of Nepal into operation.
Construction of alternate domestic airport at any cost
In his 100 days’ work plan, Minister Adhikari had directed to increase the operation time of TIA to reduce the high air traffic of the country and also directed to do it either by stopping the permission to new flights or by deducting the domestic flights. In the same plan he had announced to build a domestic airfield in Kavre as an alternative to the domestic section at Tribhuvan International Airport at any cost.
Commitment to bring Jiri airport back into operation
Mr. Rabindra Adhikari on his visit to Jiri has committed to bring the Jiri Airport back to operation. Jiri is a famous tourist destination and Minister Adhikari announced the same in the interaction program held near the airport site.
Enhancement of security protocol at Lukla Airport
Minister directed to use the mandatory machine in the security checkpoint after examining the airport and asked authorities to arrange the necessary electricity for operating equipment. According to the Trekking Guide, Chudamani KC, tourists get their flight delayed due to the absence of equipment for security check-in and they also feel confused.
The contributions of Minister Adhikari are enormous and have provided a new era for the Aviation industry of Nepal. He will be sadly missed as he no longer stays with us physically after passing away on Air Dynasty’s crash, on 27 February 2019, including 5 other and 1 crew.