Many of the airports at various parts of the country constructed after a very huge investment of budget of the government of Nepal have not been able to operate. However, they have been a perfect bait for the politicians for gaining their popularity and voters attraction for the politicians, from the Prime Minister to members of Parliament of Nepal. Politicians are tirelessly preaching that the airports will be upgraded, re-operated and the places will be crowded with Tourists that would aid in the development and social status upliftment of the local people.
Among 54 airports in Nepal, only 32 of the airports are operating presently. While most of the already constructed airports are closed the government is further planning to construct 15 new airports in various parts of the world. Without proper planning and emphasis, the government has already allocated a budget for the acquisition of lands and infrastructures. A big question is still there, are new airports really necessary?
Dhorpata Airport of Baglung initiated in 1973 is totally closed now. Meghauli Airport constructed in 1961 during the arrival of Britain’s Queen in Nepal which is also closed now except for few army operations. Sanfebagar airport in Achchham is also shut for a long time. Manang Airport which initiated an operation in 1981 which had its runway retopped in 2015 has not seen aircraft since 2012. Jiri Airport in Dolakha constructed in 1976 has also not seen any aircraft for a long. Langtang airport in Langtang, Kangeldananda Airport in Solukhumu, Rolpa Airport are also not in operation since a long time ago.
Without any research, if the new airports would be beneficial, Prime Minister of Nepal, K.P. Oli, Ex-Prime Minister Jhalnath Khanal, Baburam Bhattarai, Khilraj Regmi have been pressurizing the government to construct an airport in their home town just for the sake of popularity.
Jhalnath Khanal while being Prime Minister made a budget allocation for the construction of Falgunanda Airport. Khilraj Regmi did the same for the construction of the airport in Palpa. Baburam Bhattarai did the same for the construction of the airport at Palungtar, Gorkha. K.P. Oli is insisting on the construction of an airport at Terhathum where a helicopter crashed with the contemporary Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation (MoCTA), Late Rabindra Adhikari was on board for inspecting the proposed airport construction site.
All new Airports, for the sake of voters’ attraction only
While presenting the agendas of Political Leaders for the public during elections, the construction of new airports has always been the hot cake to present. Political leaders make the public expect the development of their places after the development of tourism for which, construction of an airport at that place plays a significant role. Therefore, wherever there is a big open space, political leaders will never fail to say they would emphasis on the construction of a new airport there. The feasibility, research, and beneficial aspects are never studied.
In the greed of some extra allowances the local authorities also emphasize on the construction of new airports and support the political leaders. The employees of Civil Aviation Authority and Engineers also assist the political leaders without any survey and analysis, for gaining some monetary benefits. In all this, no one cares about the hefty investment of the government that might turn waste in the future if the airport can’t operate suitably. There are a lot of cases like this for many years in the country.
Ex-Minister of MoCTA, Jiban Bahadur Shahi, had allocated budget for the operation of Kalikot Airport. The construction of the Apron and Runway is going on.
Ex-Minister of MoCTA Lokendra Bista despite the already presence of an operating airport in Dang had insisted on the construction of Narayanpur Airport at the same place.
Ex-Minister, Gokul Baskota had insisted on the construction of another airport at his hometown Kavre.
Another airport construction in Okhaldhunga is going on after the Ex-Minister of MoCTA, Bal Bahadur KC. allocated budget for it.
The present Foreign Minister, Pradip Gyawali also has an airport under construction in his hometown Gulmi.
Ex-Finance Minister Damodar Bhandari had allocated a budget for the construction of an airport in Baitadi.