Supporters of Pokhara regional airport unveil protests
POKHARA, Aug 13: Organizations and individuals supporting the proposed Pokhara International Regional Airport (PIRA) have launched protests accusing the government of delaying construction of the airport.
They have also unveiled a series of protest and submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai in Pokhara on Monday.
Pokhara based industrialists, tourism entrepreneurs and officials of different associations say they will continue the protests until the government starts the construction of the airport.
The pressure group has announced they will picket Civil Aviation Authority Office in Pokhara, stop the sale of air tickets of Pokhara sector for a day and stage protest at the gate of domestic airport. They also complained to Bhattarai that their demands outlined in their earlier memorandum was heeded.
Cordinator of the pressure group and president of Pokhara Chambers of Commerce and Industry Krishna Mohan Shrestha said, "The construction of the airport can´t be stopped for any reason, the process should be continued." He further said that the protests will continue until the government starts the construction.
Former President of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Aananda Raj Mulmi said if the project was not implemented soon there was a chance that the whole project could be terminated.
Following the warning from several employees unions of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the authority has not iniated the process further after calling the tender. Although a study carried by the CAAN had estimated the cost of developing PRIA at around US $ 66 million, the lowest bidder however, quoted US $305.13 million.
The unionist are demanding CAAN to scrap the project saying the ´high price´ would add financial burden. The Chinese EXIM Bank has agreed to a soft loan of US $145 million for the project.
Receiving the memorandum Bhattarai said he had already instructed the concerned authority to resolve the issue. "The project will be implemented at any cost and I have asked the tourism ministry and secretary to solve the issue and create an environment to implement the project," added he.