According to him, few works like repairing of air traffic control tower and marking of the runway are in the final phase of construction. The construction had started in 1959 and was inaugurated by then Transport Minister Ganesh Man Singh. The airport was subsequently closed down after few days. Due to the lack of necessary infrastructure and dirt runway, the airport had been transformed into animal grazing land. Locals and political leaders had been pressurizing the government to upgrade the airport.
Finally, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) in 2015-16 allocated budget for the airport’s upgradation.
The airport upgradation project was awarded to a joint venture company in October 16, 2016 with the completion deadline of November 2017. As the company failed to complete the project by the stipulated time, the project was given an extra five months to finish. The total cost for the project was Rs303 million.
However, the airport has not acquired additional land as the existing land is not sufficient to expand the airport.
“As the airport needs to create a buffer area in both ends of the runway, it needed an additional 22 bigas land,” said Mahato. The Tourism Ministry has allocated Rs520 million for this purpose, he said. However, the Finance Ministry has not released the fund and that has halted the land procurement process. “We will initiate the land procurement process as soon as the fund is released,” said Mahato.