A parliamentary subcommittee headed by former prime minister (PM) Madhav Kumar Nepal has spent over Rs 800,000 for an almost fruitless inspection of Nijgadh on a helicopter Monday.
The International Relations Committee of the House of representatives (HoR) had its attention drawn after the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation wrote to the Forest Ministry for permission to cut trees for construction of the international airport in Nijgadh, Bara. The Forest Ministry has yet to oblige citing that permission has been sought to cut more trees than necessary.
The committee had discussed the issue of cutting trees with Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Rabindra Adhikari. The committee had then formed a sub-committee under former PM Nepal for study.
The sub-committee inspected Nijgadh from a chopper on Monday. The lawmakers of the sub-committee observed the trees without even getting down from the chopper. “We went looking at the fast track,” lawmaker Diva Mani Rajbhandari, who went for inspection, told Setopati. “We found dense forest in Nijgadh. Trees were chopped at some places. We also looked at Tangiya settlement.”
He conceded that the sub-committee could not locate the area allotted for construction despite making a round of the forest in Nijgadh. “There were no guides. We had an aerial view.”
Forest Minister Shakti Basnet and Minister Adhikari also accompanied the lawmakers.
An MI-17 helicopter of Nepal Army (NA) was hired for the inspection. The NA charges Rs 465,000 per hour for the chopper and provides a discount of 12 percent to government bodies which means the ministers and lawmakers paid at the rate of Rs 409,200 per hour for the two-hour trip.
“Former PM Nepal and the ministers gave an interview to television from the chopper,” another lawmaker said requesting anonymity. “There is nothing to say what we saw from the chopper.”
Lawmaker Rajbhandari said the sub-committee will again go for field inspection. “We will go in vehicles. Madhav Nepal has also said we should again go in vehicles,” he stated. He claimed that the sub-committee got an overall idea about the construction area after the visit.
Former PM Nepal on September 28 had advised Minister Adhikari to not build a city in Nijgadh by cutting trees. He had pointed that Nepalis had practice of working in haste and regretting later without thinking about the future.
But Nepal himself has gone for a hasty inspection tour for two hours on a chopper for what was a useless tour in essence. “We were in a hurry to return for the tea party hosted by the vice president,” a lawmaker, who went for the inspection, told Setopati. “We, therefore, just had a tour on a chopper.”