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Supreme Court Orders Govt to Halt Construction of Nijgadh International Airport 

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Supreme Court Orders Govt to Halt Construction of Nijgadh International Airport 

May 27:  International Airport for which the government has already spent more than Rs 1.11 billion in the last three decades.   

Responding to a writ petition filed against the construction of the airport, a full bench of Justices Hari Krishna Karki, Bishwambhar Prasad Shrestha, Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada, Prakashman Singh Raut and Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma issued such order on Thursday (May 26).    

The mandamus order of the apex court has instructed the government to revoke all the decisions taken in regard to the construction of the airport till date and seek an alternative to the airport.

Supreme Court’s Spokesperson Bimal Poudel confirmed that the apex court has revoked all the decisions taken by the government for the construction of the airport.

“The Supreme Court has ordered the government to seek an alternative to the airport. That means the government has to seek another site for the construction of the airport by taking into consideration the environment impact assessment and existing laws,” said Poudel, adding, “The bench has annulled all the earlier decisions taken regarding the EIA .”

The government in its policies and programmes for the upcoming fiscal year had mentioned that it would finalize the modality of investment and construction of the airport. Three days after the announcement, the Supreme Court ordered the government not to construct the airport.

This is the final verdict in a case filed by senior advocate Prakash Mani Sharma and Ranjuhajur Pandey two years ago.

The dispute over the construction of airport had surfaced over the felling of trees.    

In the writ petition, the petitioners had demanded that the construction be stopped since the construction there would cause massive destruction of trees.    

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), which was undertaking the project, has said it will respect the decision of the apex court.

Spokesperson of CAAN Dev Chandra  Lal Karn said that the Supreme Court verdict has effectively closed the chapter of this airport.

“We have to abide by the decision of the Supreme Court. We will seek other alternatives after receiving the full text of the court verdict,” said Karn.

Infrastructure experts as well as politicians have expressed displeasure over the decision of the apex court.

Former Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai has termed the court’s verdict as a regressive step. In a Twitter post, Bhattarai also urged the justices to reconsider their decision.

“This is a blatant intervention in a project considered as the game changer of the aviation sector of Nepal. The respected justices need to correct this decision,” he wrote on Twitter.

Responding to Bhattarai’s Twitter post, infrastructure expert Surya Raj Acharya has also expressed his reservations towards the SC decision.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa also took to Twitter saying that the decision was “inappropriate and unfortunate”.

UML leader Pradeep Gyawali also criticized the order.

Likewise, former Finance Secretary Rameshwar Khanal said sarcastically “A country like Switzerland with an area of 41,285 sq km has 7 international airports. Why does a small country like ours with an area of 147,516 sq km need 4 international airports?”

Nevertheless, there are also a section of people who have expressed happiness over the SC verdict.

“You didn’t believe when I said an airport cannot be built on the basis of a fake EIA. Now I’m sorry for those who bought land,” wrote a Twitter handler.

Save Nijgadh Campain’s Kashish Das Shrestha said that the SC verdict was a big news for protection of Nijgadh from environmental point of view.

The government had started construction works of the airport in FY 2072/73 almost two decades after conducting a study. Informed sources said that the government has so far invested Rs 1.11 billion for the project.

 

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