Protest Against China’s BRI in Front of Pokhara Airport [With Photos]

Rashtriya Ekta Abhiyan staged a protest today in Pokhara, saying that China is attempting to take control of Pokhara International Airport by labeling it as a project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

A crowd, including residents and leaders of the Abhiyan, gathered in front of the airport entrance. The protesters demanded the airport be made fully operational, called for an investigation into alleged corruption at the airport, and urged for the conversion of the Chinese loan into a grant.

On Monday, the protestors also presented their demands to the Parliamentary Subcommittee Head and RPP Chairman Rajendra Lingden, who was given the authority to investigate the suspected irregularities during the construction of the airport. Binay Yadav, central coordinator of Rashtriya Ekta Abhiyan , addressed the sit-in program and submitted the memorandum to Lingden.

Similar to Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port and Pakistan’s Gwadar port, China seeks control over Pokhara Airport, which holds significant geopolitical importance. Yadav stated, ‘Nepal struggles with repayment of high-interest loans from China,’ urging an investigation into alleged corruption during the airport’s construction. He suggested converting high-interest loans into grants and ensuring efficient airport management.

Chairman Lingden expressed solidarity with Pokhara residents’ demands, pledging full support in this regard.


As suspicions of irregularities surfaced in the construction of Pokhara International Airport, a project undertaken by a Chinese company financed through a loan from the Chinese Exim Bank, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, the Office of the Auditor General, and the Public Accounts Committee raised alarms regarding potential malpractices in the execution of this crucial infrastructure endeavor.

So, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Representatives established a sub-committee to investigate irregularities surrounding the construction of Pokhara Airport. The project, initiated in the fiscal year 2074/75 with targeted completion in 2077/78, faced a two-year delay and escalated costs from 22 billion to 25 billion 34 million Nepali Rupees, raising suspicions of mismanagement, particularly attributed to delays by the Chinese contractor.

The 12-member sub-committee, led by RPP Chairman and MP Rajendra Prasad Lingden, includes Arjun Narsingh KC, Gokul Prasad Baskota, Janardan Sharma, Tara Lama Tamang, Teju Lal Chaudhary, Deepak Giri, Dev Prasad Timilsina, Prem Bahadur Ale, Ram Krishna Yadav, Rukmani Rana Baraili, and Leknath Dahal. They are thoroughly investigating the construction process of Pokhara Regional International Airport.



Apart from 14 two-way charter flights, there have been no international flights in Pokhara in a year and a half. Although it is said that Bangladesh Airlines is willing to fly directly to Pokhara, this has not been realized.

The Auditor General’s office has been consistently raising concerns about a specific project over the past two years. In its recent reports, it highlighted irregularities in the allocation of funds and the management of a major airport construction project in Pokhara.

Last year’s report from the Auditor Account revealed that the Ministry of Finance had allocated 2.22 billion rupees for customs duties to this project office in an irregular manner.

In the Auditor General’s 60th report, it was pointed out that the country suffered due to financial and infrastructural mismanagement during the airport’s construction. Issues included contract non-compliance, errors in runway construction leading to increased state expenses, and excessive consultant fees. These findings have cast doubt on the project’s chief officer and other officials.

The airport construction began under an agreement between the government and the Chinese contractor CAMCE, valued at US$ 244 million, including taxes. However, contrary to the agreement, the project received exemptions worth 2.22 billion rupees in customs duties, tariffs, and VAT.

Furthermore, discrepancies were noted regarding tender agreements and the unauthorized discounting of fees, raising concerns about potential misappropriation of disbursed funds by the Ministry of Finance.

In the latest 61st report, the Auditor General has questioned the absence of international flights at the completed airport, highlighting ongoing issues and oversight in project management.

Today’s protest photos:

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