KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Around 100 people protested in Nepal’s capital on Monday to voice their opposition to plans to cut down millions of trees to build an international airport in the southern part of the country.
The protesters picketed the offices of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal and the Department of Forest in Kathmandu, calling for an immediate stop to the plans to build the airport in Nijgadh, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the capital.
It’s estimated that 2.4 million trees will have to be cut down to build the airport, which is expected to cost $3.5 billion.
The protesters alleged that the planned airport would be an environment disaster because it would destroy forests that are the habitat for wild animals in the area.
“We are demanding the government immediately stop the plans to cut down the trees and destroy the environment of the region to build this airport,” said Sunil Yadav, a protester who traveled from his home in southern Nepal for the demonstration.
Yadav said that an international airport was necessary in the area, but that a new location needs to be chosen where there are no forests or wild animals.
The planned project would also force some 500 families to move from their villages.
Nepal has only one international airport, located in Kathmandu. During bad weather in winter and the rainy season, international flights to Nepal are sometimes diverted to other countries.