Kathmandu – Experts have said that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report on the proposed international airport in Nijgadh, Bara was prepared without incorporating all the concerned authorities of the airport construction. They opined the currently tabled EIA can’t be of the airport project.
Speaking at a program organized by Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ), senior former captain Prachanda Jung Shah said that both the people and the government are in the dark. He said experts are also in delusion. It is obvious that the Nijgadh International Airport will be the second international airport as the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu is the first international airport of the country.
But the Nijgadh International Airport is the primary airport as it has its own importance, he said. Shah said that Nijgadh Airport is not the alternative airport instead it is the main international airport. Technically, what we should understand is that the Tribhuvan International Airport and Nijgadh Airport International Airport are supplementary to each other, he said. Nepal government should give responsible commitments as it is the responsible agency, the former captain said. But the airport should be constructed in Nijgadh. “People have been saying that this airport will be the biggest airport in South Asia. Ministers have also been reiterating the same thing. This is also the misconception,” he said. The country which does not have sufficient infrastructure to construct the airport should not talk about constructing the biggest airport in South Asia, Shah added. The government should say that the Nijgadh International Airport should be constructed at any cost.
Also speaking at the program, environmentalist Prabhu Bhudhathoki said that the airport should not be constructed by destroying the forest and biodiversity. He said it will be hard to get the international assistance at a time when the world is raising the issue of climate change. When we take an example of wildfires in Amazon rainforest, Norway and other European countries have already announced that they would not buy the products produced in Amazon. Against this background and sensitive situation, Nepal will have to face a big problem if some countries express their reluctance to land their aircrafts in the airport which was constructed by destroying 8,000 hectare of forest, he said.
The European Commission (EC) has also imposed a ban on Nepali airlines through an updated “EU air safety list”, the list of non-European airlines, for failing to meet the international safety standards. Under these circumstances, the airport could also be banned. We have to take all these factors into considerations, he said. The construction of the airport will affect the environment of the area.
Similarly, environmentalist Batu Krishna Uprety said that the EIA which was made public by the concerned authority is not the EIA of the airport. He claimed that the EIA was prepared merely to cut down the trees. There are many errors in the report. He said that the EIA report was endorsed as per the law of Nepal. That’s why everyone should abide by the report. But we cannot follow everything if we go through the contents of the report, Uprety said. Saying that there should be alternative explanation of EIA, he said that general concept of the EIA has not been adhered in this report. He said that the government should take ahead the project by correcting the EIA.
Likewise, expert on forestry Ananda Bhandari said that there is no possibility to construct airport in Chitwan as there is a national park. It has been said that the airport could not be constructed in Butwal because of three rivers. How is it possible to construct the airport in Nijgadh which is close to Parsa National Park and has two rivers?” he questioned.
Sanot Adhikari, Chairman of Youth Alliance for Environment, urged the concerned authority to recheck the EIA of the airport. He said it would be better to review everything before starting the big project.