POKHARA, Sept 16: Finance Minister Barshaman Pun has ruled out the possibility of starting the process of Pokhara international airport project in near future.
Amid the ongoing agitation by the local residents to start of the process of constructing the international airport in Pokhara, FM Pun on Saturday made it clear that the government is not in position to take any decision to this effect.
“There are some legal hurdles apart from procedural flaws in loan agreement and tender process,” said Pun. “Overlooking all these legal hurdles and procedural flaws, the authorities of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) alone can´t take any decision about such a huge project.”
Speaking at a program in Pokhara on Saturday, Pun urged the agitating locals to put a hold on all their protest. He said that it was not wise to put pressure on the government when there are confusion due to legal hurdles and procedural problems.
Pun also stressed the need to sign new loan agreement and start new tender process. He informed that the government has already started a series of talks with the China government to renegotiate a new agreement.
In addition to legal hurdles and procedural flaws, Pun also pointed out two other issues that have prevented the government from taking any decision immediately. “The project cost (of the airport) is very high and the design has also undergone multiple changes,” said Pun.
Initially, the government had planned to build the international airport with a loan of Rs 15 billion from the China Exim Bank. But, the lowest bidder for the project, the CMC of China, proposed to build the airport at the cost of Rs 27 billion.
Trade Unions in CAAN have objected to the airport construction, saying it was not viable to go ahead with the project at the cost proposed by the lowest bidder. However, the residents of Pokhara say the government must build the airport in Pokhara.