Kathmandu, December 22
The government’s target of commencing construction activities at Nijgadh International Airport, a national pride project, in December is now uncertain with the Supreme Court today continuing its interim order issued on December 6 that directed the government to halt ongoing construction at NIA.
A double bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Shamsher Rana and Justice Kumar Regmi directed the government to halt ongoing works at the construction site. Responding to a writ petition against the NIA construction today, the apex court directed the government to adhere to the directive that was issued on December 6.
The directive was issued on a writ petition filed by Dwarikanath Dhungel, former secretary of Nijgadh Forest Preservation Committee, and Senior Advocate Krishna Prasad Bhandari, along with eight other petitioners. The SC has also directed the government to immediately stop felling trees at the construction site.
The petition was filed against the Federal Cabinet, Cabinet of Province 2, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, the Ministry of Forests and Environment and the Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment of Province 2. The petition claims that a large number of trees that are 500 to 600 years old will be destroyed for the project.
However, on January 23, a study report published by the Parliament’s International Relations and Labour Committee had revealed that around 700,000 trees needed to be cut down, most of which wee small plants. Back then the committee had given a go-ahead to the airport construction.
The government plans to build Nijgadh airport as an international hub for 22 countries, handling around 15 million air passengers per year. Moreover, NIA has also been considered as an alternative to address the increasing air congestion at Tribhuvan International Airport. The government also expects NIA to play a significant role in the overall economy of the country.
A version of this article appears in print on December 23, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.