CAAN’s annual budget fails to be endorsed

1st Nov, 2017 | Tourism Mail Crew

KATHMANDU, Nov 1: The annual budget of 43.58 billion rupees for Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal for the fiscal year of 2017/18 failed to be endorsed as Tourism Minister as well as the Chairman of board called off the scheduled meeting.

Minister Dev suddenly asked Caan Director General Sanjiv Gautam to cancel the meeting, officials informed in the condition of anonymity. The two have been at loggerheads with each other for the last two months.

“There was no reason behind the abrupt cancellation and the date for another meeting has not been fixed, the resulting delays are expected to hit the projects and programs of the country’s booming aviation industry,” official said.

Gautam said that he did not know the exact reason behind the decision to call off the meeting. Minister Dev turned down the Post’s request to discuss the issue. Dev had made multiple attempts to replace Caan chief Gautam before passing the annual budget, but he was unsuccessful.

According to Caan, a number of new projects are slated to be executed this year and continuity will be given to old projects. A $28-million rehabilitation project to improve the runway at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), which has been on hold since March, is expected to start moving again.

Last March, the project had shortlisted four firms after evaluating their technical proposals. However, these bidders were not invited to submit financial proposals, as the Caan board could not hold its meetings. Likewise, funds have been allocated to extend the taxiway from the southern tip of the approach point of Runway 02. As the 02 approach point is not connected with the taxiway, aircraft require extra time to park on the tarmac after landing.

A new helipad able to accommodate 30 choppers will also be built on the eastern side of the runway.

Similarly, the helipads at Nepalgunj, Simikot and Lukla airports will be expanded this year, he said. Caan has allocated funding to undertake runway overlay works at Pokhara and Nepalgunj airports.

Bharatpur and Janakpur airports will be equipped with a precision approach path indicator (PAPI), or runway landing lights to provide visual guidance to pilots. The Tumlingtar Airport runway is also planned to be blacktopped this year.

Moreover, budget allocations have been made for the continuation of old projects, like the improvement of TIA and the up gradation of Gautam Buddha airport in Bhairahawa to an international airport.

The TIA project includes extension of the 3,050-metre runway and expansion of the international terminal building, among other works. The $92-million project has been on hold since last December after Spanish contractor Constructora Sanjose was sent off for non-performance.