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Demand to review of SC's verdict on Nijgadh airport

2022 May 28, 19:49, Kathmandu

Supreme Court delivered a verdict that the construction of Nijgadh international airport should be stopped, but it has created a furor. Conservationists are celebrating the verdict while others are wondering about the meaning of the verdict.

The top political leaders are demanding a review of the court verdict that terminated the entire process of the construction of the international airport.

The debate on whether to advance development works or save forests and ecosystems has intensified again- thanks to the Supreme Court decision.

As the verdict was delivered by the extended full bench of SC, the likelihood of review is slim. The government policy and programmes for the coming fiscal year have also stated that the proper model of the airport would be selected and construction works forward.

The leaders of the ruling coalition, opposition party leaders, and stakeholders from Bara and Parsa districts have shown sheer disagreement with the decision to terminate the construction process, while senior advocate Prakash Mani Sharma, who had filed a writ petition at SC, observed the verdict is a historic one for the protection of the environment.

Sharma and Ranju Hajur Pande had filed the writ petition against the construction of Nijgadh airport, showing environmental reasons.

However, the political party leaders are of the view that the court must not obstruct development works, so the decision warrants review.

Speaking in the ongoing House of Representative meeting, former prime ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', Madhav Kumar Nepal, Dr Baburam Bhattarai, and other leaders demanded that the court decision be reviewed.

Also the Chairperson of CPN (Maoist Centre), Dahal expressed that the SC verdict to terminate the construction of Nijgadh international airport was bizarre and upsetting. The Chairperson viewed that a false claim was made that there was a jungle in the place having no jungle. The verdict might have come based on such logic, he added, saying the decision came suddenly.

He also suggested that the court reviewed the decision. According to him, an expert team could be formed and further study made on it for the review of the decision.

Similarly, the former prime minister and Chairperson of CPN (Unified Socialist) Madhav Kumar Nepal commented that the termination of airport construction was wrong. It was disappointing to terminate the construction while many works for it were already forwarded, he stressed.

"What's the alternative to the Nijgadh airport? It was forwarded as the regional hub. What's the logic behind stopping it now? There were no trees in the area the airport would be constructed," he expressed in the meeting of the House of Representatives on Friday, underscoring the need of forwarding it.

The senior leader of the Nepali Congress Ramchandra Poudel viewed the SC verdict lacked a conscience. He further said SC decision does have impacts on other development works too, so the verdict needs reviewing.

The extended full bench of Justices Harikrishna Karki, Bishwombhar Prasad Shrestha, Ishwori Prasad Khatiwada, Prakashman Singh Raut, and Manoj Kumar Sharma scrapped all decisions on Nijgadh airport construction with certiorari. In the order, they also asked the government to seek proper alternatives on the issues relating to Forest Act, Rule, and the environment.

Rs 1.50 billion has been spent on land management and wire fencing alone for the project.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), more than Rs 3 billion has been spent on the project. After conducting the nationwide study, the decision was made early in 2051BS to construct the international airport at Tangiya settlement of Nijgadh, Bara.

The government has distributed 110 bighas of land as compensation too. Other paraphernalia including Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) has been over.

The government had begun allocating the budget for the airport since the last fiscal year.

The government had forwarded the construction of Nijgadh international airport as the alternative to the Tribhuvan International Airport 28 years back. But, it had been receiving criticism for the possible demolition of a huge number of trees.

Former Director-General of the CAAN, Triratna Manandhar, presented the fact that the High Court of London had given an outlet to the third runway project of Heathrow Airport where 761 concrete houses had to be demolished, a large part of ring road had to be shifted and the course of a rivulet had to be changed.

He writes on social media, "But in Nepal? Poor countries pay more concerned about the environment rather than rich countries. I am in confusion about whether I should be happy or unhappy. I considered Nijgadh airport as the future of the country. I am disappointed."

The government has taken ahead Kathmandu-Tarai-Madhes fast track and Nijgadh airport linking each other. However, the construction of a fast track is taking place.

Industrialists of Birgunj have demanded to review of the Supreme Court's decision about the Nijgadh international airport. The recent decision has made a negative impact on the development of this sector, said industrialists.

A press release issued by Chairperson of Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Subodh Gupta, demanded the review of SC decision as there would be a negative impact on the development of Birgunj as well as Parsa and Bara districts.

The study reports of different task forces had determined Nijgadh as a suitable place for the construction of the international airport.


Supreme Court Nijgadh International Airport Conservationists government policy and programmes Madhav Kumar Nepal House of Representatives Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal
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