The Government of Nepal’s funding for Surkhet Airport development has been frozen owing to a lack of progress. The federal government and the state government had allocated a budget to expand the airport in the current fiscal year. But the budget has been frozen as the locals have not allowed them to work.
The Karnali state government had allocated Rs 500 million and the central government Rs 510 million to expand the airport in the current fiscal year. The state and central governments have agreed to invest jointly in expanding and upgrading the airport. But 1 billion has been frozen as locals affected by the airport expansion halted the work. The work on this airport, which was previously unable to be completed due to a lack of funding, failed to be completed this time along despite being budgeted. Due to the obstruction of the locals, there is confusion in moving ahead with the project.
Currently, the airports in Karnali province are small, making it impossible to land a big aircraft. After becoming the state capital, a plan has been put forward to expand the airport to accommodate large aircraft. However, its work has not been able to move forward due to obstructions by the locals. Residents of the affected areas have been demanding proper rehabilitation and compensation. Despite repeated talks between the state government and the locals, no agreement has been reached. The work has been stopped due to a lack of consensus.
Due to the obstruction of the locals, it is feared that the project will be affected not only in the current fiscal year but also in the coming fiscal year. The federal government has also allocated a budget for Surkhet Airport for the coming fiscal year. But the amount allocated for Surkhet airport has not been confirmed.
As the airport expands, about 200 families will be displaced. However, the Civil Aviation Office, Surkhet, expects the airport to expand from the next fiscal year. Chief of the Civil Aviation Office, Surkhet, Umesh Kumar Panthi, said that the airport’s expansion could be done as the central government allocated the budget. The Karnali state government has also stated that it will continue the plan to expand the airport. Minister for Internal Affairs and Law Sita Kumari Nepali, who is also the state government’s spokesperson, said, “We will expand the airport in the coming fiscal year by addressing the demands of the locals.”
The project will be taken forward based on consensus by addressing the demands of the locals. “The government is ready to address the demands of the locals,” she said. “The airport will be expanded from the next fiscal year based on consensus.” The state government has been saying that the airport’s expansion is a project of Karnali’s pride.
It is planned to expand the runway of the airport. Similarly, it will be upgraded to make night flights possible. The central government has already approved the acquisition of 30 bighas of land to expand the airport. Currently, the airport’s runway is short and large aircraft (72 seats) have not been able to land. The length of the runway of the airport is currently 1,255 meters. Now, it is planned to make the length of the runway 1,555 meters by expanding it.