February 7: At a time when the government is moving ahead with its plan for the construction of an international airport in Nijgadh, environmental activists have appealed to the government to build the airport elsewhere arguing that the construction of the airport will have negative impact on the natural environment and wildlife of Nijgadh.
Environmental activists say that said that the environment impact assessment (EIA) of Nijgadh lacks extensive study of the area. Therefore, the environmental activists and the other stakeholders strongly appealed to the government during a press meet held on Wednesday, February 6, to conduct environment impact assessment (EIA) in other feasible areas.
Environmental activists claimed that it is worthless to construct a multi-million rupees airport that would affect countless wildlife and thousands of trees spread across 8,046 hectors of the rich natural forest renowned as Char Kose Jhadi in Province 2.
They stated that the Char Kose Jhadi, which is the national pride of the country, will be destroyed by the big national project. Instead, they suggested that Murtiya, which is 33 km east of the proposed site, can be appropriate for the airport. The said that Murtiya does not have forest areas and is far from the hills as well as the Indian border.
Kapil Chitrakar, an expert on forest and wildlife, said that they have submitted petitions to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), the Ministry of Forest and Environment and the Prime Minister’s Office. He said that 141 different critics, forest experts, journalists, entrepreneurs, industrialists, environmental activists among others have signed the petitions.
Dr Dwarika Dhungel, an analyst and former secretary said, “We are not standing against the developmental projects of the country which are indeed required for reliving traffic congestion at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). However, the project should be carried out in an eco-friendly manner. Deforestation of Nijgadh forest which protects over 500 species of birds, 22 species of rare vegetation including shorea robusta (Sal) tree and 23 varieties of mammals will adversely affect the environment.”
According to environmental activist Prabhu Budathoki , the deforestation of the Chure range will lead to desertification of Terai and Madhes affecting the livelihood of the people. Likewise, environmental activist Chanda Rana said Nijgadh’s EIA resembles the format of hydropower project. Rana also pleaded the government to conduct EIA for feasibility of the Murtiya instead of Nijgadh.
The council of minister had allocated area in Nijgadh for the construction of the airport on March 13, 2015.