Nepal Today

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Kathmandu, 29 Feb.: One day after a crucial meeting of the Big Three amid growing differences and rage between the country’s three major political players, Maoist Chairman Prachanda and his second vice-chairman Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai agreed Wednesday a controversial Nepal Army proposal for integration of 6,500 former PLA fighters would be a bottom line for an agreement.
Opposition parties NC and UML have accused Bhattarai for delaying and not implementing a recommendation to integrate 6,500 former fighters under a new directorate in the state army.
Maoists have agreed to integration conditionally if a former fighter is appointed brigadier general in a new directorate while they have only been offered the rank of a major without disrupting the present army hierarchy
Differences have surfaced within the Nepal Army (NA) and non-Maoist parties on the NA proposal described as conciliatory to Maoists.
Prachanda and Bhattarai held discussions on delayed peace process and constitution writing ahead of the Three Party meet Thursday.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachedhar, who is also home and defence minister, Monday objected to the army proposal submitted to Bhattarai without consulting him while summoning concerned army officer to the defence minister, Nagarik reports.
Gachedhar, who is also chairman of MJFL, is seeking mass integration of 10,000 Madesh youth in NC put on hold by the supreme court.
Prachanda and Bhattarai met amid internal differences in the party on integration as well.
YCL, former PLA commandants are pressing for monetary relief similar to those received by 7,200 former fighters who went on voluntary retirement this month
Maoists launched YCL as a civilian paramilitary unit for election and other purposes after joining the political mainstream more than four years ago.
YCL activists are former PLA fighters in civilian garb.
Maoist establishment is attempting settle YCL claims by taxing Maoist lawmakers.
The YML demand has put leadership in a fix.
Kathmandu, 29 Feb: India’s plan to interlink rivers, which had earlier drawn serious concerns from the region including Nepal and Bangladesh, now seems to have got a new lease of life with the recent decision of the country’s apex court, Mahesh Acharya writes in The Kathmandu Post. from New Delh
The Indian Supreme Court on Monday ordered the central government to implement the project, which was announced in 2002 by the erstwhile government to link the major rivers in the region.
Bangladesh, a lower riparian country, has been very vocal against India’s plan, which also includes the diversion of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, as it fears that such a project could leave its areas dry.
Though a formal version from Nepal has not emerged so far on the issue, environmentalists and activists in the country have expressed concerns of ecological disaster and severe ramifications on the Nepali side.
“Though India’s plan says that the reservoirs of water that flows from Nepal will be built on Indian soil, it does not seem feasible. Ultimately, reservoirs have to be built in Nepali parts, which could result in inundation and of course, serious environmental ramifications in the Nepali areas,” one Nepali water expert said, requesting anonymity.
The court has also directed the Indian government to set up a panel to spearhead the implementation of the project.
This multi- million dollar project announced by the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has literally been a dead issue over a decade due to differing views in the country and reservations from neighboring nations.
Kathmandu, 29 Feb.: Fast rising passenger traffic and air traffic movement has strained Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) to near saturation point, and airline operators have called for urgent steps to ease the overcapacity, Sangam Parsain wrtes in The Kathmandu Post..
Airline operators said the government should immediately plan three measures — short-, medium- and long-term — to relieve pressure on Nepal’s sole international air gateway.
In the short term, helicopter operations should be shifted to another place. In the medium term, domestic airlines should be relocated to
alternative airports; and in the long term, international carriers should be diverted to regional international airports. Currently, the government is developing regional airports in Bhairahawa and Pokhara.
Yog Raj Kandel, member of the Airlines Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN), said that if the severe congestion at TIA was not addressed in time, it could invite ‘negative consequences’ in the county’s burgeoning aviation industry. “TIA, which has been designed to process a maximum 30 aircraft per hour through a single runway, is now processing planes double the number. This is against international norms,” Kandel said.
TIA has been operating with a severe space crunch and limited infrastructure. It handled 4.28 million passengers in 2011, up 7.33 percent year on year. According to TIA, international carriers flew 2.70 million passengers, up 10.81 percent from 2010, while domestic airlines served 1.58 million travellers, up 1.87 percent.
Similarly, air traffic movement increased to 101,993 in 2011 from 99,281 in 2010. Nepal’s skies handled 22,791 international flights in 2011 compared to 19,864 in 2010. On an average, TIA handles 63 international and 217 domestic flights daily.
Tri Ratna Manandhar, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), said that CAAN had been expediting work on expanding TIA with Asian Development Bank assistance in light of the growing traffic.
“As the government has announced Vision-20 that aims to attract one million visitors annually, it was also necessary to increase the facilities and develop TIA,” Manandhar said. According to him, the government is mulling developing an alternative airport for domestic flights as a short-term plan.
YEAR 2010 2011
TOTAL PASSENGER 3.99 million 4.28 million
International 2.43 million 2.70 million
Domestic 1.55 million 1.58 million
AIRCRAFT MOVEMENT 99,281 101,993
International 19,417 22,791
Domestic 79,864 79,202
(Source: TIA)


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