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Pride int’l airport project risks budget freeze
By C K Khanal
Kathmandu, Oct. 24: The budget allocated for the construction of the Second International Airport (SIA) at Nijgad of Bara district is likely to be frozen for the third consecutive year due to the indifference of the government to the much-touted project.
The SIA is a national pride project launched by the government.
Hari Adhikari, the project development engineer of the SIA, said that there was a slim chance of spending the budget allocated to the project this fiscal year, too.
He said that there was no improvement in the situation needed to spend the allocated budget.
The government has allocated Rs. 1.5 billion to the SIA for the current fiscal year for fencing, constructing the parameter, land acquisition and conducting the environment impact assessment (EIA) and socio-economic analysis (SEA).
A budget of Rs. 500 million each was frozen in fiscal year 2013/14 and 2014/15.
Altogether the SIA has Rs. 2.5 billion to spend during the current fiscal year.
The estimated cost of the SIA is Rs. 121 billion. A Korean consultancy company, Land Mark Worldwide (LMW), had made a detailed feasibility and design study of the project by investing US$ 3.5 million.
Adhikari said that the project could not spend such a high amount in the present context as the budget allocation was made without considering the stage of the project and bureaucratic process.
He said that the government had allocated budget for fencing around the proposed site of the SIA, but the process of transforming the ownership of the land, both under private and government ownership, was still uncertain.
“I have forwarded a letter to the ministry to take initiatives for the transfer of ownership of the government land to the project, but no progress has been made so far,” Adhikari said.
He said that the government had also allocated budget for fencing last fiscal year, too, but it also got frozen.
Saying that the current laws and procedures were not development-friendly, he said that the government should forward development projects by suspending some laws and procedures to get the expected result.
He stressed the need for taking effective initiatives by the Office of the Prime Minister to forward important development projects on a fast track.
Currently, the selection consultant for the EIA and SEA of the project is in the final stage, he said. The budget allocated to the EIA and SEA is around Rs. 5 million.
He said that the acquisition of 110 bighas of private land at the project site would be started from the current fiscal year.
Dandu Raj Ghimire, joint secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, said that the ministry was coordinating with the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation for the transfer of government land to the project.
He said that the government had given due priority to the SIA project. The delay in the project was only due to the time-consuming procedures, he added.
The SIA is a project directly connected to the much-talked about infrastructure project- the Kathmandu Terai Fast Track.
The Kathmandu-Terai Fast Track is currently in limbo owing to differences between the political parties on whether to allow foreign investment in the project.
The project development model of the SIA and its investor is yet to be finalised. As SIA is a project requiring huge investment, it probably needs foreign investment, said Ghimire.
During the submission of the detailed project report, the consultant company, LMW, had shown interest in developing the project.