Nijgadh Airport to cost Rs 670 billion

Nijgadh Airport to cost Rs 670 billion

8 April 2015 | Karobar

KATHMANDU, 7 APR:Total cost of the proposed Nijgadh International Airport has been revealed to be Rs 670 billion as per the detailed project report (DPR) submitted by South Korean company LMW to the government four years ago. The amount is almost Rs 150 billion more than the current national budget. “There is problem in moving the project forward as the project cost is higher than even the national budget,” Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Suresh Man Shrestha says. “The cost may even reach Rs 800 billion if we add annual inflation. There is no alternative to first finding the investor as the project cannot currently be supported by the country’s economy,” he adds. The government has not been able to spend Rs 500 million allocated in the fiscal year 2071/72 for distributing compensation for land and fencing the land. Secretary Shrestha concedes that the government has not been able to move any work forward due to the high project cost. The airport will be completed in three stages over 14 years as per the DPR. Rs 65 billion will be spent in the first stage, Rs 255 billion in the second stage and Rs 350 billion in the third stage.

The government is reluctant to boldly move the project forward immediately despite facing intense pressure for construction of the international airport at Nijgadh after accident of the Turkish Airlines plane at the TIA obstructed the only international airport in the country for four days. Shrestha reasons Nijgadh has been on the backburner also as the government is focused on constructing regional international airports now. The process to determine land has started only last month, 17 years after the government announced construction of the airport. Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track has to be constructed for operation of the airport. The government, therefore, has prioritized the fast track now as it feels investor for the airport cannot be found until construction of the fast track is guaranteed.

The Nepal Army (NA) has already opened track for the fast track two years ago. The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport last month had signed agreement with an Indian company for detailed study for the 72-kilometer highway that will connect Kathmandu to the eastern tarai. The estimated cost of fast track is almost Rs 75 billion. There will be two-way runway 3.60 km long and 45 meters wide in the airport. The runway will be designed in a way that almost all kinds of wide-body airplanes produced in the aviation industry can take-off from and land at the airport. There will be six boarding gates, 34 check-in counters, six security checks, 35 immigration counters and eight customs counters at the airport. Arrival lounge will be in the ground floor while departure will be handled through the first floor of the airport terminal. The first stage will be completed in four years and the airport will be able to cater to 15 million passengers a year after that while the second stage will be completed in another five years and it can cater to 30 million passengers a year then. It can cater to 60 million passengers a year after completion of the third stage another five years later.