Pokhara airport’s foundation laying slated for April 14The foundation stone of the country’s second regional international airport in Pokhara will be laid on April 14, marking the launch of a project that has been on the drawing board for decades.
The foundation stone of the country’s second regional international airport in Pokhara will be laid on April 14, marking the launch of a project that has been on the drawing board for decades.
A meeting of the Airport Construction High-Level Facilitation Committee on Thursday decided to invite Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to do the honours.
The meeting chaired by lawmaker Rabindra Adhikari has also decided to request the government to name the project as Pokhara International Airport. The proposed airport site at Chinnedanda lies 3 km to the east of Pokhara’s domestic airport.
On March 21, the government signed a $215.96 million loan deal with China EXIM Bank to build a new international airport in the lake city during Prime Minister Oli’s visit to Beijing.
According to Pradeep Adhikari, chief of the project, the civil works of the project will formally begin after the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) and the Finance Ministry sign a subsidiary loan agreement.
In May 2014, Caan awarded the contract to China CAMC Engineering. The airport will be built under the engineering procurement and construction (EPC) model.
The EPC contract binds the contractor to deliver the project at the stipulated time and at the predetermined price regardless of any possible cost overruns. In November 2014, the Finance Ministry had formally requested China EXIM Bank for a soft loan of $215.96 million to build the international airport. The credit request followed the Cabinet’s go-ahead in October 2014 to construct the project with Chinese funding.
In 1975, the government had taken over 3,106 ropanis of land for the project. It acquired another 629 ropanis after a new study showed that the proposed airport would require more space.
“More than 90 percent of landowners whose properties have been acquired have received compensation,” he said, adding that the remaining compensation payments would be distributed soon.
The bank has agreed to provide 25 percent of the loan without interest. The government will have to pay 2 percent interest per annum on the rest of the loan. The loan repayment period has been set at 20 years, including a seven-year grace period when no interest will be charged.
Caan had invited bids for the project in February 2012. As per the feasibility report, the airport, which will be spread over 200 hectares, will have a 2,500-metre-long and 45-metre-wide runway. It will accommodate medium category jets like the Boeing 757 and the Airbus 320.
Likewise, the government will be upgrading Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairahawa to a regional international airport. It is scheduled to come online by 2017.