Focus Elsewhere (Caan)
January 23, 2017- Kathmandu
Long debated Nijgadh International Airport is nowhere to be started. Since the 18 years of its inauguration, the required workouts and construction works goes on snail paced. Firstly, the government did not prioritize it. Though, with increasing passengers’ traffic and difficulty in aircraft handling, TIA did not struggle to care. Minor accidents and incidents were taking place but government couldn’t notice the big hole until the April earthquake came with all the shocks and realizations. The earthquake toll its toll on the runway of TIA leaving it all cracked and beyond restoration . The old and wary runway couldn’t take more stress and government noticed the lethargic runway beaming a demand for another runway at TIA which was impossible to make. This event made the government notice the old forgotten second international airport plan and it thought of acting on it more seriously.
Till then, only four pillars were constructed for the site building within the span of 18 years after the inauguration. Now, the government had to act steadily for the construction of the airport.In 2011, Government conducted a survey through the help of Landmark Worldwide Consultancy of Korea which acquiesced a comprehensive feasibility study of the airport venture to the government, and projected that the airport, which would be constructed in three phases that would cost Rs 82 billion. The budget estimation was done but the cost was rather high and the report did not assess the cost for land acquisition, the cost of resettlement, surplus land, extended runway and the terminal building.
The problems lined up and moving head is a big headache now for government and Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN). The huge amount of area that the airport requires which is about 80 square kilometers consists 90 percent of the forest which needs to be cleared. Likewise, the additional land required needs some households to be cleared but the locals have denied that. Likewise, there has also been constant debate on who will be given the responsibility to construct the airport. While the Korean company earlier conducting the study has shown interest in building the airport and Indian authorities have also expressed their wish to build the international airport as it lies near Bihar and will be dealing with Indian passengers too. Government, but has said that it will invest its own resources and money for the airport.
Supplementary to that, the government must built the airport considering the environmental issues like bird control. The international airport which is slated to have 4000 meters runway will have trouble dealing with the migratory birds as it lies nearby the wildlife reserves and huge forest areas. The airport must be built as per the bird control regulations provided by ICAO.
Bhairahawa and Pokahara airport which are on pace in their construction works have also affected the construction of the Nijgadh airport as it has again been left out of priority. The two airports, previously regional, will be established as international and their construction works are taken at top significance by the Tourism Ministry and Caan. This has long and indirect effect on the establishment of Nijgadh Airport which is still not under government’s scrutiny for establishment and the airport will take decades to be completed.