Fast track, Nijgadh must be built with govt money
16 March 2015 | Karobar
KATHMANDU, MAR 15: Stakeholders have advised the government to construct national pride projects Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track and Nijgadh International Airport with government investment by immediately taking political decision. Claiming that the projects will not be completed even in 10 years if the government depended on the staffers who cannot take even basic decisions and private investors, experts and stakeholders during the discussion organized by the Development Committee of the parliament about these two projects on Sunday urged the government to move forward with courage through government investment in the Fast Track proposed before the turn of the 21st century and the second international airport proposed two decades ago. “The government must take a brave decision to construct big projects, and that will not be possible through the staffers who lack technical nous and capacity to take political decisions,” former finance secretary Rameshwroe Khanal opined. “The projects reportedly will be constructed with private investment claiming that the government cannot construct them. But it has already been evident that the projects cannot be constructed in build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) model. The projects can be constructed through government investment if there is political decision,” he added.
Khanal advised for state decision stating that politicians take decisions for construction of mega projects and technicians implement them across the world. He claimed that the government has adequate resources to construct these projects as billions of rupees remain idle in government accounts in lack of spending. Stating that these two projects have broad social, economic and political importance, he urged they should not be taken as alternative projects and as essential instead. Chairman of the parliamentary committee lawmaker Rabindra Adhikari stated that these two projects, considered lucrative globally, should be constructed simultaneously. “Nijgadh International Airport and Fast Track are the projects of topmost priority for Nepal. These projects can be constructed within six to seven years if there is political willpower. The committee will take solid decision on that,” he added. Stating that development of the country is not possible in status quo, he opined that the government must construct these projects even by taking risk.
Joint Secretary at the Finance Ministry Dr Baikuntha Aryal also argued that the projects can be constructed through government investment if there is political decision. “There will not be shortage of resources if we were to work. We cannot spend more than Rs 10 billion in a year in any project. We can allocate Rs 10 billion for these projects every year,” he explained. Stating that banks have adequate liquidity and Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Citizen Investment trust (CIT) can invest billions every year, he claimed that capital needed for these projects can be arranged domestically if there is clarity on modality. Transportation engineer Dr Surya Raj Acharya also claimed that these projects can be constructed domestically and advised that railway should also be developed along with the Fast Track. “We should not construct toll roads through BOOT model at the start. Such projects can be given to the private sector only if the citizens have an alternative for easy transportation,” he reasoned. “Nepal has human resources with world class capacity. These projects can be constructed if there is political decision about mobilization of internal resources and human resources,” he added.
Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Ratish Chandra Lal Suman said Nijgadh International Airport should be constructed immediately as new flight permission cannot be issued for the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) after 2023. Stating that the Nijgadh Airport can cater to 60 million passengers, he claimed the airport that can connect 20 main cities in four hours will become a transit hub.
We cannot take decision: staffers
Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Rabindra Lal Shrestha said Indian company ILFS, that has been negotiating to construct Fast Track in BOOT model, has proposed in a manner that will put financial burden on the government, and added that the ministry cannot take a decision on that. “The company has demanded a huge amount in lack of a detailed project report (DPR). It has demanded Rs 300 billion for the project with estimated cost of Rs 96 billion stating that there will not be required minimum flow of vehicles. We cannot take such a decision,” he added.
Arguing that just Rs 5 billion will be generated annually in revenue from the road, the company has demanded that the government should provide Rs 20 billion every year. Stating that a high level committee should be formed to construct the project, and the annual liability for the government should be fixed if it will be constructed eventually in BOOT model. The 76-kilometer Fast Track from Khokana, Lalitpur to Nijgadh, Bara will connect tarai directly to Kathmandu Valley, and there have been demands that it be constructed to bring air passengers from Nijgadh Airport to the destinations.