Kathmandu, September 10
The Ministry of Forests and Environment is all set to forward a proposal to the Cabinet seeking approval for felling around 2.45 million trees to pave the way for construction of the proposed second international airport in Nijgadh, Bara.
The ministry’s decision follows a meeting between Forest and Environment Minister Shakti Bahadur Basnet and Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Rabindra Adhikari today.
As per the talks, the trees will not be chopped off at once, but in phases in line with the progress made in the construction.
“We discussed theoretical aspects today and will soon consult Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli before sending the proposal to the Cabinet,” Basnet told THT. In today’s meeting, Adhikari requested Basnet to fast-track the process of chopping the tress for expediting the national pride project. In his reply, Basnet requested Adhikari to ensure the project’s certainty, stating it would be a disaster if the trees were felled and the project did not move ahead.
The meeting followed a letter sent by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation to the forest and environment ministry seeking approval for felling 2.45 million trees in Bara district.
According to the Environment Impact Assessment report, which was approved by the forest ministry in May, 2.45 million trees on 7,969.37 hectares out of 8,045.79 hectares of land should be felled, and 61.27 million saplings should be planted elsewhere to compensate the loss of forest.
As per the report, 575,000 small and 194,000 big trees will be felled in the first phase and the rest in the second and third phases. A total 38,294 hectares of land will be required for the project.
The forest ministry plans to plant saplings on river banks, vacant land plots and mismanaged forests. Nepali Army has been assigned the task of chopping off the trees and Department of Forest will manage and sell the wood.
Almost 90 per cent of the proposed project area, some within the buffer zone of Parsa National Park, is covered by ‘Shorea robusta’ trees.
If things go as planned, $1.21 billion second international airport, located 175 km south of Kathmandu, will be one of the biggest airports in South Asia.
A version of this article appears in print on September 10, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.