•      Mon Feb 26 2024

Nijgadh airport to build in same location: Minister Bhattarai

Kathmandu, Sept 5: Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Yogesh Bhattarai today said that the government would build the Nijgadh International Airport in the same location as suggested by a study relating to the project.

The location for the project would not change whatsoever, he said. Movements of a total of 8 million passengers take place from the only Tribhuvan International Airport on a yearly basis, and the figure is increasing by 7.5 percent every year.

The airport cannot endure the pressure of passengers if the figure of passengers grows at this rate. So alternatives to this airport should be sought, said minister Bhattarai.

Emphasising the exploration of another international airport in the country as the pressure of passengers at TIA would reach at a higher point by 2022, minister Bhattarai said, “We will try our best to decrease environmental impacts while constructing the airport.”

He was speaking at an interaction programme organised here by the Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ). Projects like expressways have started, he said.

Airways are effective means to attract a large number of tourists, and there is a need to increase and expand international airports in the country, he asserted.

The government has taken environmental aspects seriously relating to the construction of the airport, he said, “The government is closely following discussions on the matter by various quarters.

Logical arguments on the issue from people’s level are genuine.” Additional discussions would be held after preparing modality of the airport in some months, he said, informing that the construction of Gautam Buddha and Pokhara International airports has reached their final stage.

Likewise, former member of the National Planning Commission, Dr Prabhu Budhathoki suggested selection of appropriate location for the airport keeping in view of the conservation of biodiversity.

Environmental expert Batu Krishna Upreti questioned the environmental impact assessment of the proposed airport and criticised it as breaching the due procedure.

Member of the President Chure Tarai-Madhes Conservation Development Committee, Bidur Bharati expressed his concerns about possible embezzlement of funds in managing chopped down trees for the project.

Unveiling a report carried out by the NEFEJ about the proposed airport, the project researcher, Rajaram Gautam suggested making a detailed study plan by maximum conserving biodiversity and keeping in view environmental aspects.

He also said establishing a town near the proposed airport would not be appropriate from any angle.

According to the report, there lacks a detailed project report of the project, environmental impact assessment has been approved in haste which only encourages chopping down trees, and 8,000 hectares of area would not be required for the project as stated.

Establishing a smart city and an airport city by cutting down trees is not reasonable, and the conclusion of the environmental impact assessment of the project to cut down over 2.4 million trees was erroneous, said the report.