Airport renovation master plan in limbo

person access_timeDecember 10 chat_bubble_outline0

Banke– It has been almost five years since the government has come up with a master plan to upgrade the Nepalgunj airport. Nevertheless, the implementation of the master plan is still a far cry.

Airport's runway has witnessed several problems for lack of tiny renovation works. The runway is widely covered with grass. There have been increasing security challenges during the take-off and landing of flights as the airport is close to the forest and its runway is covered with invasive grass.

The movement of wild animals to and from invasive bush has posed serious challenge to the airport security. According to Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), challenges have occurred due to delay on part of Pappu Construction in completing grading works in the airport. The Pappu Construction was awarded the contract for the works.

Owing to definite maintenance measures, the airport has turned to a grass land. Growing boar rampage has also increased the risks of accidents in the airport, informed CAAN Chief Premnath Thakur.

It may be noted that an aircraft of Buddha Airlines had hit a boar on last Tuesday while landing at the airport. The wild animal was killed in the accident. Human casualty however was narrowly escaped.

The security challenges have become more pressing with the wild animals easily entering to the runway, said Binit Shah, station manager at the Buddha Airlines.

"The airport has a grass runway. The problem is recurring with lack of regular and systematic clean-up of the runway. It has added challenges since wild animals can easily hide them in the bush and enter the runway anytime", he added.

As of now Pappu Construction has completed the overlay of the airport. However, other important works, including marking, drain, grading and leveling have yet to be completed.

Despite several follow-ups, the construction company has remained apathetic to complete the backlog of works, CAAN authority said. The contract was to complete the construction a year back, Thakur added.

The Pappu Construction was awarded the contract amounting to Rs 130 million for cementing the runway, marking and cleaning up bushes and grading. Rs 113.3 million was already disbursed to the contractor for the work. However, the progress is sluggish.

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