Supreme Court halts construction of multi-billion-dollar Nijgadh airportAn extended full bench quashes all government decisions regarding the airport, envisioned as an alternative to Tribhuvan International Airport.
The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed all the government decisions to construct a full-fledged international airport in Nijgadh, Bara, an alternative to Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport.
An extended full bench of the Supreme Court issued an order to the government to find an alternative to Nijgadh, if it wants to build the international airport.
Passing a final verdict on a case filed by senior advocate Prakash Mani Sharma and Ranju Hajur Pandey, the extended full bench of Justices Hari Krishna Karki, Bishwambhar Prasad Shrestha, Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada, Prakash Man Singh Rawat and Manoj Kumar Sharma quashed all the government decisions regarding the construction of Nijgadh airport.
The $3.45 billion-dollar Nijgadh International Airport in Bara’s fate had been hanging in the balance for years, with successive government pushing for it and environmentalists calling for taking into consideration the impacts of the national pride project on environment, biodiversity, local communities and wildlife.
The proposed site is adjacent to the Parsa National Park, corridor to big wildlife like tigers and elephants, and habitat of rich biodiversity. Located 175 km south of Kathmandu, the planned construction site lies amid dense forests with nearly 90 percent of the project area covered by Shorea robusta trees, also known as sal or sakhua. The market value of the lumber stands at over Rs65 billion.
According to an environmental and social impact assessment carried out by the Tourism Ministry in February 2017, more than 2.4 million small and large trees would have to be felled to build the international airport in three phases.
Despite interim orders issued by the country’s top court to stop felling trees at the construction site, the government in January 2020 had decided to move the project ahead.
“An extended full bench of the Supreme Court today quashed all the decisions of the government to build the Nijgadh airport with an order of certiorari,” said Bimal Poudel, spokesperson for the Supreme Court. “The court has also ordered the government to seek an appropriate alternative.”