September 19: An experts' group formed by the government to study the feasibility of constructing an international airport in Nijgadh of Bara district has submitted its study report to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.
Coordinator of the experts' group Birendra Bahadur Deuja handed over the report to the PM in the presence of Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Jeevan Ram Shrestha, amidst a programme at the prime minister's official residence in Baluwatar on Sunday.
The experts' group was formed as per a decision made by the government on August 11 in pursuant to a mandamus order of the Supreme Court.
The experts' group has concluded that an international airport with full-capacity is needed to handle the increasing air traffic for the long-term development and prosperity of Nepal.
As per the report, around 4,000 hectares area lying between the Pasaha River and the Bakaiya River adjoining the East-West Highway and the Kathmandu-Tarai Express Way would be an appropriate location for the proposed international airport.
The experts' group has recommended the government to abandon the concept of 'airport city' keeping in mind the Supreme Court's order to reduce environmental damage due to the felling of trees. It has also recommended to declare around 9,000 hectares as protected zone and to construct the airport in about 4,000 hectares of land in different phases.
The report has recommended that the airport management should carry out works like prevention of river erosion and other conservation works including protection of trees in the remaining areas. It has stated that trees in only around 1,500 hectares of land should be cut in the first phase and has suggested not to cut the trees in the remaining areas until the commencement of the second phase of construction works.
It is stated in the report that the construction of the airport should be done by preparing an environmental management plan after fulfilling its legal process and procedures and taking the necessary approval. The experts’ group has also reminded the government about its constitutional obligation to make the necessary legal arrangements for maintaining appropriate balance between development and the environment while carrying out development works.
It is also mentioned in the report that the delay in the construction of the full-capacity international airport will increase the cost, which will ultimately delay the development of Nepal. In this context, the report has suggested to form a development authority with special powers to build the airport on a time-bound manner at the earliest.
On the occasion, PM Deuba stressed on the need of constructing the international airport in war footing. He also thanked the experts' team for timely completion of its works and responsibility. -- RSS