House panel urges government to expedite construction of airports

Kathmandu, January 19

The Development Committee of the Legislature-Parliament today directed the government to expedite construction process of different proposed and under construction airports of the country.

Informing that very little progress has been made in the construction works of Nijgadh International Airport and Pokhara International Airport, the committee directed the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM), Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) and Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to expedite construction works of these airports and bring them into operation soon.

“Though considered a national pride project by the government, it has not yet prepared the detailed project report of Nijgadh International Airport proving its inefficiency,” said Rabindra Adhikari, chairman of the committee. “Moreover, the government has not even fixed construction modality of the new international airport though construction of the second international airport has been in the pipeline since many years.”

Adhikari further said, “We want all related government agencies to collectively resolve the hurdles in the construction of the international airport in Nijgadh and other airports as soon as possible and complete construction of these projects within the designated time.”

A Korean company, Landmark Worldwide Company, in 2011, had prepared a detailed feasibility study of the Nijgadh International Airport and submitted it to the government. Landmark had estimated that the project, which would be developed in three phases, would cost around Rs 86 billion.

Acknowledging the progress made in the construction of the Gautam Buddha International Airport, the committee also directed Ministry of Energy to immediately provide a dedicated feeder line to the project. MoCTCA has been complaining that construction of Gautam Buddha Airport has been badly affected due to lack of sufficient power supply.

The meeting of the development committee also expressed serious concern over the ineffective role played by National Planning Commission (NPC) and Investment Board Nepal (IBN) towards the construction of big airport projects.

“We have noticed that NPC and IBN are not very concerned in the development and construction of mega airport projects in the country. Thus, committee would like to urge NPC and IBN to play an effective regulatory role for timely construction of mega airport projects,” said Adhikari.

Meanwhile, committee also directed MoCTCA to bring into operation different domestic airports that have been closed due to various reasons.

It also asked government to take necessary steps to upgrade infrastructure at Tribhuvan International Airport.

Suresh Acharya, joint secretary of MoCTCA, said that it has been facing problems in paying the compensation amount to people whose land it had acquired to construct the international airport in Nijgadh and also in clearing the forest areas.

“We will soon finalise the construction model of the airport in Nijgadh. Construction works of other airports can be expedited if all related government agencies, including different parliamentary committees put in a collective effort to resolve existing hurdles,” he said.

ICAO validation mission to visit Nepal in March

KATHMANDU: Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Suresh Acharya, has said that a validation mission of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is expected to visit Nepal in March to check the progress made in Nepal’s aviation sector after the European Union blacklisted Nepali airlines in 2014.

“We have asked ICAO officials to visit Kathmandu in March for the same. The ICAO team will cross-check all the details of progress made by the domestic aviation sector, from safety standards to infrastructure development,” said Acharya. “The report that the validation mission prepares on Nepal’s aviation sector will determine whether or not the current ban on Nepali airlines in European Union will be lifted,” he added.

ICAO had red-flagged Nepal’s aviation sector in 2013, citing non-compliance of ICAO protocols in different areas, including aircraft accident investigation.