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Pokhara cricket stadium unlikely to get complete anytime soon despite big investment and ambitious plan

To equip the under-construction Pokhara Stadium with everything it needs and beautify it to the fullest, the Gandaki provincial government poured Rs 10 million whereas the federal government also invested Rs 20 million. But even with Rs 30 million at stake, the lack of coordination between the two levels of governments has ultimately left the budget unspent. 

Although concerned agencies of both governments seem to have prioritised the project, it is unlikely to materialise anytime soon.

Wasted two years

From the first year of its tenure (2017), the provincial government had its goal set to establish an international-level stadium in Pokhara. However, the province did not have an acre of land under its name.

In the fiscal year 2018/9, the provincial government allocated Rs 10 million for field research to establish the university. In the fiscal year 2019/20, another Rs five million was allocated for the same. However, not a penny was spent, and the budget allocation lapsed.

Slow progress

Meanwhile, a team was formed under Nepal Olympic Committee Vice-President Tej Bahadur Gurung to identify a suitable space for the proposed international cricket stadium. The team had recommended a 1,147-acre (147 ropanis) of land near Pashupati Ghat of Bharat Pokhari in Pokhara-33 as land appropriate for the stadium. 

After that, the provincial government started the process to get approval to build the stadium. Upon its proposal, the federal government on January 24 this year decided to give the said land to the Gandaki province for further procedures.

A detailed project report (DPR) has already been prepared by the BRS Engineering Solution Pvt. Ltd. and it has sketched a fully-equipped stadium with the approximate budget plan of Rs 1.63 billion.

According to the DPR, the stadium will be built in 984 acres (123 ropanis) with seven pitches. It will have a capacity of 18,000 spectators, with 120 VVIP seats, 1,200 VIP seats and 100 seats for media personnel. Adjacent to that, it will have a building to accommodate 900 players. The stadium will have the capacity to accommodate parking for 400 four-wheelers and 600 two-wheelers with 70 VIP parking slots.

It is estimated that the stadium will hold T-20 series, one-day internationals and test matches in the next four years.

Gandaki Chief Minister Prithvi Subba Gurung informs that the project has already begun and that the construction will be held in coordination with other levels of government. 

The spokesperson for the provincial Ministry of Social Development, Tej Bahadur Kafle, also informs the project has been proposed to be enlisted as a multi-year project under the Provincial Policy and Planning Commission. He adds process for the environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the stadium has also started.

Risk of erosion

Meanwhile, the proposed land for the stadium lies near the Seti River bordering Pokhara-29 and Pokhara-33. Last year, the eastern side of the land was eroded by the river. Even if the flow of the river is to be diverted, it is assumed that another section of the land will be eroded. With erosion occurring every year in the area, will the Gandaki provincial government succeed to build a big-budget stadium? This question has not been answered yet.

The province’s Social Development Minister Nara Devi Pun, however, says, “We will begin the land conservation project first. In the current fiscal year, Rs 20 million has been allocated for the project. The budget will focus on the embankment of the land, in coordination with the Ministry of Physical Infrastructural Development.”

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