Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Construction of international airport in Pokhara starts, finally

Construction work of Pokhara Regional International Airport formally started from today, some 15 months after the foundation stone for the regional airport was laid.
The then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had laid the foundation stone for the national pride project on April 13, 2016. Similarly, CPN (Maoist Centre) supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal, CPN-UML senior leader Jhalanath Khanal, then deputy prime minister duo Kamal Thapa and Bijay Kumar Gachhadhar, former foreign minister Ananda Prasad Pokharel and Nepali Congress General Secretary Shashanka Koirala had also laid stones at the construction site.
Albeit the construction was started on July 11, 2017, tourism minister Jitendra Dev today formally inaugurated the construction of the airport.
Dev, on the occasion, said that the project could be a milestone for the development and prosperity of the country once it comes into operation. It is one of the three new international airports planned in the Himalayan country.
Initially the Rs 22 billion-national pride project was planned to be completed by July, 2020. But Dev said that the project will be completed by July, 2021, also due to 15-month delay in starting construction work after laying foundation stone.
Of the 21 projects categorised as national pride projects by the government, five falls under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. Dev also said that he would spare no effort to make sure that the national pride project is completed within the deadline.
Director general of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Sanjiv Gautam, on the occasion, said that Pokhara has waiting for this moment for almost 42 years. "The progress in expansion of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and construction of Bhairahawa International Airport is not so satisfactory," he said, adding, "But Pokhara Regional International Airport project should be completed on time."
Completion of construction on time is important, as our plan is to repay the loan secured to build the project by using revenue of the airport," he added.
According to the CAAN, the loan will be repaid in 26 installment, two installments per year.
Project manager of China CAMC Engineering Yang Jerry, on the occasion, said that they have begun building dormitories for worker. "We will start major construction works after the monsoon ends," he said, committing to complete the project in time, if they get support from the locals.
The government had signed a $215.96 million concessional loan agreement with China's Export and Import (EXIM) Bank – in March 2016 – to construct the Pokhara Regional International Airport. The loan has to be cleared within 13 years of the completion of the seven-year grace period.
China CAMC Engineering – the main contractor of the Pokhara Regional International Airport Project that bagged the contract in May 2014 – is constructing the project in Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) modality under 4D model according to the criteria set by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The government had acquired more than 3,100 ropani of land spread in Ward No 14, 15, and 18 of Pokhara Municipality four decades ago. It acquired another 521 ropani later on.
Rabindra Adhikari, president of the parliamentary Development Committee, said adding that the locals of Pokhara have worked very hard to see this day. "We have now authorised the construction company to fulfill our decades-long dream," he added.
Lawmakers Sarada Poudel and Sita Giri, Airport Construction Project director Pradip Adhikari, former president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Ananda Raj Mulmi, president of Pokhara Chamber of Commerce and Industry Bishwa Shankar Palikhe, among others stressed on the need for the State to prioritise the construction of supporting infrastructures along with the construction of the airport.
Once the airport is ready for operation, it will have 2,500 meters long and 45 meters wide runway, which can handle medium category jets like Boeing 757 and Airbus 320, according to the project office.

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