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Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Airport at Budhha's birthplace
Lumbini, Nepal
Lumbini is revered as the birthplace of Buddha
Nepal is to build an international airport near the birthplace of Buddha in Lumbini, south west of the capital, Kathmandu.

The government says this is part of plans to develop Lumbini as an international tourist centre and Buddhist pilgrimage site.

The village of Lumbini is one of Nepal's most famous landmarks, revered for the birth of Buddha, 2,600 years ago.

The airport will be built in Siddharthanagar, 20km from Lumbini, on Nepal's border with India.

A French company has been awarded the contract to carry out a feasibility study of the proposed project.

Under an agreement between the Nepalese Government and the French Alpa Consultants company, the study will be concluded within nine months.

Once done, the French company is expected to be granted permission to build the airport.

The project is estimated to cost more than $100m.

Nepalese authorities say the proposed airport will ease pressure on the country's only international airport in Kathmandu.

Plans to develop Lumbini as a international pilgrimage centre for Buddhists have progressed slowly in the past three decades.

Tourism is a major backbone of Nepal's economy and the main source of foreign currency and employment.

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01 Dec 98 | South Asia
Nepal hosts world's Buddhists
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