Pokhara int’l airport project gets cabinet nod

The cabinet meeting on Monday approved the agreement between the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and China CAMC Engineering Co Ltd (CAMCE) for the construction of Pokhara Regional International Airport.

The decision paves the way for construction of the airport which had been pending for the past 40 years.

Luo Yan, chairman and president of CAMCE, and Ratish Chandra Lal Suman, director general of CAAN, had signed the agreement on May 22.

“The cabinet meeting has given a go-ahead today (Monday). Now construction works on the airport will begin,” Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Deepak Chandra Amatya told Republica.

The proposed airport, which will spread over 200 hectares, has a 2,500 meters long and 45 meters wide runway.

As per the agreement, CAMCE will construct the runway, taxi-way, apron, international and domestic terminal buildings, air-traffic control tower, cargo terminal building and airport hangar.

Birendra Kumar Shrestha, spokesperson of CAAN, the airport will be constructed at a total investment of Rs 21.47 billion. “The Ministry of Finance (MoF) will get concessional loans from Export Import (Exim) Bank China. The ministry will then issue the loan to CAAN charging interest rate of 8 percent,” added Shrestha. He further added that the cabinet nod to the agreement will expedite the loan sanctioning process.

CAAN had invited tenders for the airport in BoQ (Bills of Quantities) model with the cost estimated at US$ 145 million. The airport project has been on hold since July 2012 after the lowest bidder — China CAMCE — bid $305 million, which was 85 percent higher than the cost estimated by Nepal.

On April 7 this year, the CAAN board gave the green signal for the construction of the controversial regional international airport in Pokhara. That meeting of the CAAN board, chaired by the then tourism minister Bhim Acharya, approved the project under a revised cost of $216 million as recommended by an independent three-member panel formed by the government.

The government acquired 3,106 ropanis of land at Chinedanda for the airport 38 years ago and this year plans to add 500 ropanis to the project as the new study suggests that it requires additional land.

“The government in the budget for the current fiscal year has allocated Rs 2.6 billion for the construction of the airport. The allocated amount will be used for land acquisition and for fencing purpose,” added Shrestha.

CAMCE is expected to complete construction of the airport within four years of the beginning of work. According to CAAN, the airport will come into operation from 2019.

My Republica