Nepal | July 10, 2020

Govt yet to fulfil commitments made earlier for aviation sector

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, May 27

With only a month-and-a-half before the current fiscal ends, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) is yet to fulfil a number of commitments made for the aviation sector.

The Ministry of Finance had allocated Rs 25 billion in the current budget for the tourism ministry. A huge chunk of that amount or Rs 19.35 billion had been appropriated for the development of the country’s aviation sector.

However, the progress of most of aviation sector programmes has been snail-paced.

Among others, one of the highly prioritised programmes of the ministry was to build a domestic airport in Kavrepalanchowk district. The late tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari had put an effort to build this airport to reduce air congestion at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).

“The feasibility study and construction of an alternate airport in Kavrepalanchowk will be expedited in order to effectively manage the intense air traffic pressure at the TIA,”

Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada had announced through budget speech last year.

The airport project had been allocated Rs 250 million for the current fiscal year.

However, after facing a lot of controversies, the airport work has remained untouched for almost a year now.

Likewise, construction of Nijgadh International Airport (NIA) has been under the government’s priority for many years, but the project has largely failed to make any satisfactory progress so far.

The country’s aviation regulatory body, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), has been claiming that all the preparatory works for the airport have been completed and they have been holding internal discussions for further works. But it is to be noted that it has already been 24 years since the government came up with a plan to build NIA as an international hub like the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, the budget for the current fiscal had also mentioned that regular flights to neighbouring countries would be launched by upgrading Biratnagar, Janakpur, Nepalgunj and Dhangadhi airports as regional airports. However, except for Nepalgunj airport which is likely to be ready to begin additional services next year, the plan has been limited to paper.

The budget had also committed to construct helipads at the locations specified by local level for emergency rescue of tourists and other people. But this too has remained on the government’s pending list.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the ministry has largely failed to mobilise its budget in the current fiscal year.

For the next fiscal year, the finance ministry has provided budget ceiling of Rs 21 billion to the tourism ministry. As per MoCTCA officials, the major focus of the next budget would be on Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign.

A version of this article appears in print on May 28, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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