Government Proposals To Build Nijgadh Airport Ignoring Legal, Economic, And Environmental Issues

Government Proposals To Build Nijgadh Airport Ignoring Legal, Economic, And Environmental Issues

May 19, 2023, 8:23 p.m.

The government led by Maoist leader Prachanda, whose government is experiencing multiple financial crises, has announced to move forward with the construction of one of the environmentally sensitive and divisive mega Nijgadh International Airports. The government has yet to operate the two international airports, Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairwa and Pokhara International Airport.

Through the annual program presented in the joint meeting of the House, the government declared its intention to move forward with the development of Nijgadh International Airport in Bara.

The Supreme Court's full bench issued an order directing the government not to clear the trees for the airport's construction in response to a plea brought by senior attorney and well-known environmental lawyer Prakash Mani Sharma. Sanjaya Adhikari, a young environmental lawyer, has been following the case closely.

Given its proximity to India's major airports and cities, the airport is not only environmentally harmful but also too large and financially unviable, and the politicians in power are insisting on its construction for no other reason than the financial gain of a select group of land brokers, timber industrialists, and contractors commission agents.

At a time when the government is unable to allocate the adequate budget to Nepal Army to timely completely the Fast Track construction, which has already delayed for five years, the announcement of mega project like Nijadh has no justification. For the construction of fast track, there need to allocation of over 100 billion rupees annually, the government is allocating merely Rs.20 billion.

“Politicians want to make money selling 2.4 million trees. This will pay huge money,” said Sharma. According to officials, the lumber's market worth of approximately Rs. 85 billion will cover half of the cost of construction.

Senior advocate Sharma warned that building such a large airport will financially devastate Nepal, similar to recent events in Sri Lanka. "Political leadership has demonstrated that they are the destroyers of nature by announcing the construction. We shall use the law to our advantage.

However, the agenda has been advanced by the current ruling party, which is supported by Madhav Kumar Nepal, a former prime minister, and other communist parties.

alternative to Nijgadh.jpg

The administration led by Prime Minister Prachanda announced plans to develop the airport in defiance of the court decision, giving priority to the multi-billion dollar project that is close to Indian aerospace and Indian government consent is most important for the operation of the airport like GBIA.

The government of Prachanda, in accordance with CPN-Unified Socialist leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, decided to move forward with the construction of Nijgadh International Airport despite growing calls for the opening of corruption-related files involving the Lalitanibas Land Scandal, Maoist Cantonment issues, and others.

The development of Nijgadh International Airport has slowed down as a result of the apex court's directive not to cut down millions of priceless trees to build the airport and to look for other land.

The Maoist-led coalition government passed policies and programs for the upcoming fiscal year 2080–81 without taking into account Nepal's financial status, the inactivity of two international airports, or the worries of domestic and international environmental groups.

The forest sections of Nijgadh contain uncommon botanical flora and are located right next to Parasa National Park, which is home to Asiatic elephants. President Ramchandra Poudel also stated that the development of the regional airport will be considered and that the construction work will move forward, making this the last forest that is technically unfit. To ensure the safety of air services, he said that safety regulations will be strictly upheld.

Additionally, he stated that an improvement would be made to the domestic and international airport terminal building. He claimed that the finished airport would be fully utilized.

“The Nijgadh airport is a disastrous dream to conceive of in a conscious mind. We cannot afford such an offense against the already depleting biodiversity. Out of the 20 targets set for 2020 under Aichi Biodiversity Targets (under CBD) in 2010, including the target to halve the loss of natural habitats, including forests, we failed to achieve even one of them, which is alarming. We are now eyeing similar targets for 2050. Achieving these targets depends on the choice we make—the habitats of other species or developmental projects regardless of the costs,” writes Roshani Giri the litigating lawyers’ team for the Nijgadh Airport case. She holds a masters in law from the University of Cambridge in her article in Far Sight (Link https://farsightnepal.com/news/46)

“It is only sensible we take a step back and understand that once this disastrous project is realized, there is no going back. The forest will disappear. Its biodiversity will perish, and there will be consequences for us as well. The ethical question of Nijgadh again brings us at the cross-road of whether all development should essentially be ‘us against the rest’, and whether humans should be so inconsiderate that we give up on the survival of the rest of the species just to make our lives better.”

“THE DENSE FOREST OF NIJGADH, the proposed site for a massive international airport which is envisaged as an airline hub, is at the center of the environment-development equation debate in Nepal. While environmentalists argue that the chopping of 2.4 million trees constitutes an environmental disaster with serious repercussions, develop mentalists advocate in favor of the project highlighting the economic benefits that come with the new airport. All things considered, an international airport at the dense forest of Nijgadh is an environmental disaster,” writes Giri.

Prime Minister Prachanda has pushed the construction agenda despite all court decisions and environmentalists' concerns. Advocate Adhikari said the battle is not over yet.

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