Rs9.74b worth of land to be acquired for Lumbini airport

- Post Report, Kathmandu
The existing domestic airport will be transformed into a regional international airport spread over 715 bighas by 2017

Apr 7, 2016-The Tourism Ministry has embarked on a Rs9.74-billion scheme to acquire another 288 bighas of land to expand Gautam Buddha Regional International Airport in Bhairahawa, three months after starting a land acquisition process for 140 bighas.

The ministry has sent the proposal to the Finance Ministry for its go-ahead before submitting it to the Cabinet. The existing domestic airport will be transformed into a regional international airport spread over 715 bighas by 2017.  

On January 13, the Cabinet had allowed the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) to acquire 140 bighas, and the government had set aside Rs2.49 billion to make compensation payments. 

Of the $90.6 million project cost excluding land, the civil works component is valued at Rs6.30 billion. The planned airport will have a 3,000-metre runway and a capacity to serve 760,000 passengers annually after the completion of the first phase of upgradation.

The Asian Development Bank has provided $58.50 million ($42.75 in loans and $15.75 million in grants), the Opec Fund for International Development (OFID) will give a $15 million loan and Caan will bear the rest of the cost as counterpart funding.

Government officials said that the project would cost more than Rs23 billion if the extra land was acquired. 

“The additional land requirement has been proposed after a new master plan showed that the airport would require a larger space for a radar station and security areas,” said Om Prakash Sharma, chief of the project.  

The new master plan was endorsed by Caan’s board recently. The earlier master plan prepared in 2006 had suggested that the runway be equipped with VHF Omni-Directional Range and Distance Measuring Equipment (VOR-DME), a radio navigation system. 

However, the new master plan has recommended installing a Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radar (MSSR) station, an advanced surveillance radar which would require bigger space, he said. “Likewise, the plan has suggested expanding the security, cargo and approach areas.” Sharma added that the plan to acquire extra land had been proposed keeping in mind the projected expansion of the airport in the future which would require more land. “The expected cost of land is also a major factor. Land prices have skyrocketed after the airport upgradation plan was unveiled; and based on current trends, the government will need to spend a huge amount of money to acquire land in the future.” 

However, some government officials have said that they smell a rat in the new Rs9.75-billion land acquisition plan. “The government is also unaware of the new master plan,” said a government official.  

As per Caan’s proposal, the land will cost from Rs1 million to Rs4 million per kattha. The government needs to relocate 450 settlements from the proposed area. 

Meanwhile, Sharma said they had begun distributing compensation payments to locals who lost their lands to the project in the first phase.

 

Published: 07-04-2016 10:00

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