HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
POKHARA: Locals brought Pokhara airport to a standstill today to press the government to start work on the proposed Pokhara Regional International Airport.
There were no flights to and from the domestic airport as the local pressure group lobbying for the international airport had written to ticket agents not to sell tickets for the day.
Coordinator of Pokhara Regional International Airport Construction Concern Committee Krishna Mohan Shrestha said locals would shut down the airport for an indefinite period if the government did not take a decision on starting construction work by August 31.
The pressure group has started an indefinite relay hunger strike at the airport, from where a total of 15 flights are operated daily to Kathmandu and Jomsom. The strike is to protest the government’s stalling of the project and conspiracy from different sides, it said.
Former Chairperson of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Ananda Raj Mulmi, cartoonist Durga Baral Watsyan, tourism expert Jhalak Thapa, folk singer Hari Devi Koirala, tourism entrepreneur Bishwa Shankar Palikhe and national volleyball player Sipora Gurung participated in the first phase of the hunger strike today.
Concern committee member Bishwa Shankar Palikhe said Pokhara residents had been awaiting the international airport for the last 40 years and were running out of patience.
Cartoonist Durga Baral Watsayan said he felt pride in participating in the strike
Koirala said they had started the campaign to strengthen their voice to foil conspiracies against the city.
“Our protest will continue until the authorities assure us that construction of the airport will begin at the earliest,” she added. National Volleyball player Gurung said she participated in the programme to represent the local youth.
Talks offer turned down
POKHARA: Pokhara International Regional Airport Construction Concern Committee turned down government invitation to hold talks on Thursday.
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation had formed a five-member talks team under the leadership of its joint-secretary on Wednesday. An emergency meeting of the concern committee decided not to sit for talks with the government team, as it had no authority to take important decisions. Committee coordinator Krishna Mohan Shrestha said the talks team was formed to weaken the agitation, and not to solve the problem. In a letter to the concern committee, the government had urged agitators to form a talks team and sit for dialogue. The government has also urged agitators to call off the protests as it was having an adverse impact on the tourism industry.