Nepal Today

Friday, August 23, 2013



Kathmandu, 23 Aug.  The Director General of Department of Foreign Employment Binod KC today surrendered before the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority and expressed his commitment to cooperate with the officers in the anti-graft body’s ongoing investigation into corruption, The Himalayan Times writes..

After the arrests of some DoFE officials, who had hinted investigating officers about institutional corruption in the department, the CIAA has been keeping KC and other top officials under close scrutiny. The CIAA has received information of misappropriation by DoFE officials while issuing labour approval to as many as 77 migrant workers. “He (KC) has expressed his commitment that he will fully cooperate and produce the file related to labour approval,” Bhawani Subedi, Press Coordinator for CIAA Chief Lokman Singh Karki, told THT.

Following media reports today that the anti-graft body was set to swoop down on top DoFE officials, Director General KC appeared before the CIAA. “Now we will wait for a few days and if he does not submit the file, we will begin action against him,” Subedi added.

The CIAA estimates that 40 to 50 per cent of DoFE staff may face action on graft charges as labour approval was issued illegally to 77 migrant workers who wanted to fly to Malaysia, Qatar and other Gulf countries. Thirty-four of them have already flown to different countries. The rest are in the ‘waiting list’. Those officials who were arrested on Tuesday had revealed that KC too was involved in issuing the labour approval illegally.
The runway at the only international airport of the country, this year, has been creating a number of problems due to recurring damages. To find out more about the present scenario of the runway, reasons behind repeated damages, and plans of the aviation authority to improve the runway at Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) to avoid similar problems in the future, Eliza Manandhar spoke to director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Ratish Chandra Lal Suman. Here is what he had to say...

After a series of flight disturbances due to repeated damages on the runway, what is the current situation of the runway?

We have been observing such problems in the runway mainly in the rainy season and as the season is coming to an end, the problem will gradually end. With the improvement in the weather, it is becoming easier for the TIA management to carry out maintenance work on the runway. Both domestic and international flight operations are normal now. It has already been more than four decades since the runway was constructed with 02/20 strength and it was in 1975 that the runway was extended from 6,600 feet to 10,000 feet. The runway got its first resurfacing in 1985 and later in 1995 for the second time. Though the third resurfacing was supposed to be done in 2005, it was not done so until 2009 due to some technical reasons.

Though it is mandatory to resurface the runway every five or 10 years, why was it not done at TIA?

Due to the increasing traffic and absence of a parallel runway, it was almost impossible for us to carry out the resurfacing work in 2005. Before 2000, TIA used to have a total of 30,000 arrivals and departures in a year but after the implementation of a liberal sky policy in 2000, air traffic started to increase gradually. In 2012, there were a total of 1.25 lakh arrivals and departures while the figure was 1.15 lakh in 2011. Due to the flight pressure, it became impossible for us to carry out the resurfacing work in 2005, which was later done in 2009.

Do you agree that the condition of the TIA runway is degrading every year along with the increasing number of flights? Is construction of a parallel runway another option?

It is true that the condition of the TIA runway is degrading each year but there is no alternative at present. It is not that we are not seriously looking into the issue. People say that a parallel runway at TIA can help minimise degradation of the runway but it is almost impossible to construct one at the moment. When the airport was constructed, the runway was made with only one side approach. Now with growing urbanisation it is almost impossible to extend the airport and even if it is possible it will be a very costly affair. It is also not possible to reconstruct the existing runway as it is not feasible to construct and shift the airport within the valley or even stop the overall operations at TIA.

The TIA runway cannot be reconstructed nor the airport be shifted and there is no alternative to TIA. So why then is the authority not showing any urgency in starting the construction of regional international airports?

We are definitely concerned about the construction of regional international airports as they will take the country’s aviation industry to another level. If everything goes well we hope to complete the construction of Bhairahawa and Pokhara regional international airports within three years. The second international airport project has been handed over to the Investment Board, which will decide about either announcing a tender or handing over the project to Landmark Worldwide Company — a South Korean firm — that completed the detailed feasibility study.

CAAN has asked international airlines to stop operating heavy aircraft to TIA for the time being. What will be its impact?

As the runway cannot be reconstructed, avoiding heavy aircraft which means minimising the load of wide-body aircraft is the best option to prevent further damage to the runway. Due to recurring damage during monsoon, the TIA management has issued a notice requesting international carriers to minimise the load of wide-body aircraft. Aircraft operators can manage the weight of passengers, cargo and fuel. Either an operator can reduce its passenger number, or its cargo or fuel. We have even suggested international operators to refuel its aircraft in Kathmandu so that the weight of their aircraft when landing is minimised. However, the alternatives to minimising the load is still under discussion.


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