Nepal government is set to request India for support in construction of an international standard stadium in Pokhara rather than seek assistance for the under-construction Mulpani Stadium in the capital.
The government has decided to make a formal request to India for the construction work during the Nepal-India Joint Commission meeting scheduled for Saturday. India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in Kathmandu on Friday for a two-day official visit.
Nepal’s Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey will make the request to his Indian counterpart Swaraj during the meeting. If the two countries reach an agreement on the issue, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, scheduled to visit Nepal on August 3 and 4, will sign the deal.
Earlier, the Ministry of Youth and Sports had planned to request India for support in construction of Mulpani Stadium. But Chudamani Paudel, joint secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, said the government has now decided to seek India’s support for construction of an international stadium in Pokhara instead.
Regarding the nature of request he said, “Nepal shall provide land for the stadium and request the Indian government to carry out all aspects of the construction work including detailed project report, technical manpower and overall expenses of the project.”
Paudel expects budget for the construction to cross Rs 1 billion, if it is done as proposed by Nepal. “The expenses for the construction of international stadium shall exceed Rs 1 billion. However, that could be finalized after the detailed project report and agreement.”
Clarifying the reason for the latest decision, he said, “Some construction works have already been done in Mulpani. The government has also allocated Rs 200 million in this year’s budget for construction there, while the construction work should be started from scratch in Pokhara.”
“Besides, we also could not find other suitable sites for construction in the capital. Pokhara is also an ideal place, as it is an important tourist destination. The secondary target is to attract large numbers of tourists and promote tourism through sports. Thus the MoYS reached the conclusion for a new site after discussion with the finance ministry.”
The Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) had initiated the construction of an international standard stadium at Mulpani in 2007 with support of various international bodies. The government has already invested more than Rs 70 million in the project. However, the construction work has been slowed down due to lack of adequate budget. The recent run of the national cricket team in the ICC World T20 prompted the government to allocate a budget of Rs 200 million for construction of the stadium in Mulpani.
“If we could construct three or four international standard stadiums, they could be alternatives for the existing neutral venues hosting international matches. That could attract 40 percent more tourists to Nepal.”
The MoYS has also plans to construct stadiums in Nepalgunj and Pokhara in the second phase once the construction work at Mulpani is over.
Paudel said the MoYS was hopeful that India would help in construction of the stadium. “We have discussed about the construction with the Embassy of India and they have responded positively.”
Besides stadium construction, youth exchange program with India is the other agenda forwarded by MoYS in the meeting.