CAAN assigned to implement SIA project

CAAN assigned to implement SIA project
5 June 2015 | The Kathmandu Post

KATHAMNDU, JUN 4: A project under the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) has been authorised to step up land acquisition for the second international airport (SIA) under a secretary-level decision reached by the Tourism Ministry on Tuesday, ending confusion over the airport project’s implementing agency. The project had stalled due to uncertainty about who would execute it. The SIA planned to be built in Nijgadh, Bara had originally been assigned to Investment Board Nepal (IBN) with instructions to fast-track it under a single window. “With Tuesday’s decision, the project has formally entered the implementation phase,” said Okil Kumar Chimauriya, the project manager of the SIA. “From now on, the project will not be held up due to policy decisions of the government.”

According to him, the project has prepared a resettlement plan, environment assessment plan and office establishment programme that will be submitted to the ministry soon.

“Now any confusion has been settled. The decision has cleared the way for Caan to complete the project including land acquisition,” said an official at the ministry.

All the tasks including resettlement will be completed within three years. The government has allocated a budget of Rs500 million to expedite project works for this fiscal year. However, with just a month remaining for the fiscal year to end, the budget allocated for land acquisition and fencing the airport premises is unlikely to be spent. Chimauriya said that they would set up an office and complete some minor tasks during this fiscal year. The unspent budget and other programmes of the national pride project will be carried over to the next fiscal year. The Finance Ministry said recently that it was agreeable to releasing additional funds if required.

On March 13, the Cabinet had given the go-ahead to the Tourism Ministry to demarcate the boundary of the long-planned SIA in a move to speed up the project.The ministry had proposed delineating an area of 80 sq km for the airport which will have two runways. The SIA scheme envisions building a modern airport in Nijgadh, which is 175 km from Kathmandu, as an alternative to congestion and winter fog at Tribhuvan International Airport, the country’s sole aerial gateway. Subsequently on April 13, the airport’s name and boundary was published in the Nepal Gazette. The northern boundary stretches from the Pasaha River to the Bakiya River on the Mahendra Highway. The southern border extends from Hariya VDC to Kariya VDC and passes through Kakadi, Dumarwana and Sapahi VDCs.

Similarly, the 8-km long eastern boundary stretches from the Bakiya River to Sapahi VDC while the western boundary is 6 km long and extends from a bridge on the Mahendra Highway to Hariya VDC. Private land and houses occupy 84 bighas of the project’s land, the ministry said. There are 1,450 squatters, including landless people, occupying the project site, who need to be relocated. The estimated cost for the first phase, as per the feasibility study, is $650 million. The airport will be able to handle 15 million passengers annually and accommodate the super jumbo Airbus 380 after the first phase of construction.