In fact, the Supreme Court’s decision has taken the proposal to build an international report in Nijgad to its pre-1995 date. From now on, we should no longer refer to Nijgad as a proposed international airport, but as the last remaining native tropical forest in the eastern Tarai that it is.
The Court’s final text says: ‘We do not see any logical argument to prove that there is no other alternative to building an airport at Nijgad.’
An exhaustive and lengthy sentence in the verdict goes on to state: ‘In addition to the economic and technical feasibility of the airport, there needs to be an objective, neutral and competent assessment by economists, social scientists, administration experts, of the impact on the environment, forest ecosystem, wildlife of the region, and an investigation into alternative sites where actual and realistic ways to minimise the environment impact are examined so that a legally acceptable environmental risk assessment report can be made that takes into account expert advice, to conclude what capacity airport should be built, where, and in what area, and the court orders that these factors are then taken into account to decide on the location of an airport that has the smallest ecological footprint.’
Translated, these 119 pages of legalese means that the Supreme Court has decided that destroying the Nijgad Forest to build an airport is not worth the damage. The issue now is: will the government dare to go against this verdict?
Read more: Nijgad’s green runway, Kashish Das Shrestha