Nepal | October 15, 2019

‘Govt will build NIA if it fails to lure foreign investors’

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, August 13

Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai has said the government will build the Nijgadh
International Airport (NIA) with local resources if the project fails to spark
any interest among foreign investors.

Speaking at a meeting of the National Concern and Coordination Committee
today, Minister Bhattarai said that if the Investment Board Nepal (IBN) does not receive any foreign investment for NIA, the government will begin the airport construction on its own.

The minister also held a meeting with the IBN later in the day regarding the investment for NIA. The IBN has received expression of interest for NIA from six countries via Nepal Investment Summit 2019 held in March.

“NIA construction will begin at any cost and the tourism ministry will not turn back from its decision this time,” he said. Stating that the entire estimated cost would not have to be poured in at once, he further said, “The government has the capacity to manage around Rs 25 billion for the airport construction.”

As all the preparations have already been completed for construction of NIA, there is no point of further delaying this project, according to the minister. On queries related to environmental concerns raised by the lawmakers during the meeting, Minister Bhattarai assured that development of the project and efforts to conserve the environment will be taken simultaneously.

According to him, the ministry is holding frequent discussions with the Ministry of Forests and Environment regarding the same. Field clearance will begin soon
after the forest ministry grants the permission to cut down trees at the construction site, Minister Bhattarai said.

Four months ago, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) had submitted the documents of the airport construction to the forest ministry seeking permission to cut down trees for site clearance. However, till date the forest ministry has not given its go-ahead. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation is holding another meeting with the forest ministry officials on Wednesday, Minister Bhattarai informed.

It has already been 24 years since the government came up with a plan to build the
Nijgadh airport as an international hub like the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. The plan is to develop the hub as an air transit for 22 neighbouring countries handling around 15 million air passengers. CAAN has been claiming that the airport construction can be completed within five years.

A version of this article appears in print on August 14, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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