Unfortunately, the delay in decision-making means the airport may be subject to the same misuse seen in other government properties. Examples like the Baluwatar land scandal in Kathmandu show that politicians and legislators often have their eyes on cashing in on national property.
Pokhara’s civil society wants to keep the airport as an open space in a city that is urbanising fast and losing its greenery. Indeed, municipalities across Nepal are fond of erecting concrete monuments, build shopping centres and view towers, or just haphazardly selling the land piecemeal.
Chhetri says Pokhara’s current airport will not be abandoned like other closed airfields across the country.
“After appropriate research, the airport can be used in the public’s interest,” he says. However, these matters are yet to be discussed with local representatives and Pokhara’s businesses.
Pokhara’s deputy mayor Manju Devi Gurung is adamant about preventing unnecessary development at the site. She says: “It should be preserved as an open space. Even if it is the property of the national government, it should be used for the benefit of the locals of Pokhara.”
Local stakeholders agree that the airport should be converted into a green area with a public park. Infrastructure expert, Suryaraj Acharya sees this as an opportunity to enhance the beauty of the city, and says: “Open spaces are integral for families and communities. There is no need to even think about adding more concrete to the area.”
Translated from the original by Aryan Sitaula.