The government is mulling Pokhara as the venue for the upcoming SAARC Summit while keeping the option of Kathmandu wide open.
A Rapid Appraisal Team (RAT) comprising five officials of Foreign, Home and Urban Development ministries has been studying a possible venue for the last two weeks. The RAT led by Foreign Ministry Joint Secretary Prakash Subedi is currently in Pokhara.
Chief Secretary Lila Mani Paudel had proposed that an alternative venue be searched for the Summit at a high-level coordination committee meeting last month. Pokhara is thus being considered as the only option given its beautiful location, and the fact that there are two five stars hotels — Grande and Fulbari Resort — there.
The Cabinet has already decided to hold 18th SAARC Summit from November 9-14, a date that needs to be endorsed by other members — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Talking to THT at his office today, Chief Secretary Paudel said there were four reasons for choosing Pokhara. He said, “First, it is a beautiful tourist destination and would be a good retreat for all participating VVIPs and VIPs. Second, it would generate enthusiasm among locals to upgrade infrastructure. Third, it would be easy to manage traffic and assure security. And lastly, all things can be better managed in Pokhara than in Kathmandu.” he added, that the only question was if there was enough infrastructure and physical facilities as we can’t construct new structures due to time constraints.”
Nepal so far has hosted two Summits— 3rd Summit in November 1987 and 11th Summit in January 2002. The first one was held in Academy Hall and another one is in International Conference Centre, New Baneshwor, which has been occupied by Constituent Assembly for almost seven years.
Paudel made it clear that the ICC couldn’t be a venue for the upcoming Summit even if it is held in Kathmandu. “If we organise the Summit there, we need to evacuate it for three months for renovation. This is not possible.”
The four possible venues in Kathmandu are: Nepal Academy, City Hall, Nepal Army Officer’s Club and Singha Durbar Gallery Baithak. Paudel, however, said the Summit plan for Pokhara is not linked to occupancy of ICC.
Maldives had hosted the 17th Summit in a small island of Addu Atoll in November 2011. “If Addu can be a venue for regional summit, why not Pokhara?” said a Foreign Ministry officer. A source said RAT would report its findings within a couple of days and the government would take a final decision.
Why Lake City?
• It’d be a good retreat for participants
• It’d encourage locals to upgrade infrastructure
• Easy to manage security and traffic
• Everything can be better managed than in Kathmandu
source: Himalayan Times, 10 April 2014