Last week, Nepal’s Supreme Court canceled government plans to construct an international airport in Nijgadh. The proposed project site is in a forest next to Parsa National Park, which serves as a wildlife corridor and habitat for tigers, elephants, and other endangered species. The project called for the cutting of 2.4 million trees.
“We have fought this short-sighted plan since 2017,” says Prakash Mani Sharma, Founder of Forum for Protection of Public Interest (Pro Public), Nepal’s only public interest environmental law organization. “This is a landmark judgement, saving the habitat of many flora and fauna, and stopping forest fragmentation,” he said.
Parsa National Park provides habitat for the endangered Asian elephant, Bengal tiger, sloth bear, and leopards. Blue bulls, sambars, chital, hog deer, barding deer, langurs, macaques, striped hyenas, jungle cats, palm civets, and more than 500 species of birds are also found in the reserve.
The Kathmandu Post reports:
“The $3.45 billion-dollar Nijgadh International Airport in Bara’s fate had been hanging in the balance for years, with successive government pushing for it and environmentalists calling for taking into consideration the impacts of the national pride project on environment, biodiversity, local communities and wildlife.”
At Prakash’s request, ELAW Staff Scientist Dr. Mark Chernaik provided the court with an expert opinion on the project’s likely impacts on biological resources. Dr. Chernaik also co-authored a report with Dr. Amod Pokrel, from the University of California, Berkeley, that revealed how the project would increase the likelihood of malaria.
Prakash wrote: “Thank you for all your support and cooperation. Without this, the victory would not have been possible.”
For more information, see:
The Kathmandu Post, May 26, 2022
Supreme Court halts construction of multi-billion-dollar Nijgadh airport