Kathmandu, December 7
Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai has said there is no need to worry over the Supreme Court (SC)’s direction to halt all the ongoing construction works at the site of Nijgadh International Airport (NIA).
Addressing the International Civil Aviation Organisation Day today, he said that the apex court just wanted to be certain that the rising environmental concerns related to NIA construction are addressed properly by the concerned authorities.
“NIA construction is related with the future of the country’s economic development, so the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) will brief the SC regarding the need to build NIA,” the minister said, adding SC’s direction is a very genuine direction that has to be followed. He, however, said that it will not affect the construction of NIA.
Bhattarai further said that the SC has sought further clarification from concerned authorities as there were rumours that more than 2.5 million trees would be felled, which would destroy the habitat of scores of wild animals.
“The apex court has called for a discussion and if I do get the permission then I am ready to visit the SC for the hearing,” he said.
“No government body will go against the country’s development process. So, it is our responsibility to make the SC understand why NIA is needed for the country’s development.”
Minister Bhattarai further highlighted that there is no alternative other than to construct the Nijgadh airport.
Although the field work of NIA has been halted, paper works and planning will continue, he added. “It is very important for us to get rid of the rumours about NIA construction,” he said, directing all stakeholders to spread the message to the masses on why NIA is important for the country’s development.
According to him, the government is working on NIA construction considering both the development and environment aspects simultaneously.
Meanwhile, speaking at the event, Rajan Pokhrel, director of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), has assured that issues regarding NIA will be resolved soon. “There has been a bit of confusion created among stakeholders at the moment regarding NIA construction,” he said, “However, I assure that all the issues of Nijgadh airport will be sorted out through discussions and construction will begin soon.”
On Friday, the SC had directed the government to halt all the ongoing construction works of NIA while CAAN and MoCTCA are preparing for the commencement of construction activities within this month.
In September, the government had shortlisted Zürich Airport International AG to construct the NIA.
A version of this article appears in print on December 08, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.