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New Pokhara International Airport, Nepal

In 1975 1,500 households were displaced for a new airport in Pokhara. The project lay dormant until it was revived in 2013. Additional land acquisition met with many protests and a violent clash that led to at least six people suffering injuries


In 1975 the Nepal government acquired 93,106 ropani (158 hectares) of land from 1,500 households for construction of a new airport in Pokhara.[1] The main objective of the new airport is to provide easier access for visitors and develop the area as a tourism hub. The land acquired for the airport was agricultural and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) recognized that the loss of farmland could cause affected people difficulties in maintaining their subsistence livelihoods, assuring that the airport project would open up opportunities for alternative livelihoods in trade and tourism.[2]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:New Pokhara International Airport, Nepal
State or province:Gandaki Pradesh province
Location of conflict:Pokhara
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Ports and airport projects
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The New Pokhara International Airport site is at Chinnedanda, just 3 kilometres distance from Pokhara Airport, the existing airport serving the region. A USD216 million loan for construction of New Pokhara International Airport, part funding the project, was finalized by China Export Import Bank on 11th July 2017. China CMAC Engineering Co (CMAC) was awarded the contract to construct and develop the airport, commencing construction in August 2016. CMAC’s bid for the project, the lowest at USD305 million, was nevertheless significantly higher than the USD175 million budget originally set for the project.[17]

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Project area:200
Level of Investment for the conflictive project305,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1,830 households / landowners
Start of the conflict:19/03/2013
Company names or state enterprises:Nepali Oil Corporation (NOC) from Nepal - Demanded additional land allocation for airport site, for fuel storage
China CAMC Engineering (CAMC) from China - Awarded contract for construction of New Pokhara International Airport
Relevant government actors:Government of Nepal
Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN)
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA)
Pokhara-Leknath Metropolitan Municipality
Kaski District
International and Finance InstitutionsChina Export Import Bank (China Exim) from China - Approved a USD 216 million soft loan agreeemnt for project development in March 2016
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:International Airport Construction Public Concern Struggle Committee
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Development of a network/collective action
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Refusal of compensation
Affected landowners attempted to padlock project office [5]
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Noise pollution, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Oil spills, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
At least 6 people injured in clash between landowners and police [5],[6],[7]
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in violence and crime
Potential: Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsProbable displacement of paragliding businesses to make way for airport flightpaths [11],[12]
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Phased land acquisition and a land survey for New Pokhara International Airport proceeded without consulting affected residents and many affected people rejected compensation that was offered. Residents facing displacement resorted to repeated protests, warnings that they would obstruct construction and an attempt to padlock the project office.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[2] Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of New Pokhara Regional International Airport, Submitted to: Government of Nepal Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, Submitted by: Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), January 2015
[click to view]

[1] Locals refuse land for hub airport in Pokhara, Ghale Treks, 19 March 2013
[click to view]

[3] With new airport, Pokhara waits for takeoff, Nepali Times, 12 January 2018
[click to view]

[4] Local protest govt move of acquiring additional land, Himalayan Times, 19 March 2013
[click to view]

[5] 10 hurt in Pokhara airport construction dispute, Kathmandu Post, 18 December 2014
[click to view]

[6] Six people injured in clashes over land compensation, Kathmandu Post, 19 December 2014
[click to view]

[7] 8 injured as agitated land owners clash with Police,, 19 December 2014
[click to view]

[8] Airport project offers substitute land, Kathmandu Post, 29 December 2014
[click to view]

[9] DDC tells landowners to stop upping ante, Himalayan Times, 8 January 2015
[click to view]

[10] Dispute over land price ends, Ekantipur, 15 February 2015
[click to view]

[11] Paragliders fear being displaced by airport, Kathmandu Post, 21 June 2016
[click to view]

[12] Pokhara’s 4-decade-old dream within grasp, Kathmandu Post, 3 August 2018
[click to view]

[13] Construction work of Pokhara Airport intensified after PM’s Visit,, 1 August 2018
[click to view]

[14] Additional land acquisition proposed for Pokhara Regional International Airport,, 10 August 2018
[click to view]

[15] Locals protest against additional land acquisition at Pokhara International Airport,, 15 August 2018
[click to view]

[16] Pokhara airport’s foundation laying slated for April 14, Kathmandu Post, 1 April 2016
[click to view]

[17] New Pokhara International Airport, Centre for Aviation (CAPA)
[click to view]

[18] Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA), Airport Technology
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3724
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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