Sunday, September 28, 2008

smooth operator - BIA needs a Mr Fix It

smooth operator - BIA needs a Mr Fix It
BY R. JAYAPRAKASH
BENGALURU








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: Mr Shivamurthy is as low profile as they come. For the last 34 years, this one man has ensured the “flight” to success of a string of politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats, film stars and celebrities was always smooth.

The man in question? Terminal manager of HAL airport, who was only a phone call away when former chief minister Devaraj Urs or Gundu Rao travelled and was on the speed dials of Dr Rajkumar, NRN and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.

One call and Mr Dependable ensured hassle free boarding or landing.

With HAL turning into a virtual no-man's land, only the occasional VIP passing through, the once high profile but intensely private Shivakumar sits in a corner of HAL airport.

“I was approached by the then chief minister Devaraj Urs in the mid 70s when he had a flight to catch to Delhi. A man in hurry. I ensured he didn’t miss his flight. After that, many leaders started approaching me. Only one man, former KPCC chief K. H. Ranganath who came in a little too late missed his flight!,” he says.

He still get calls as many do not know he is grounded at HAL, far away from the action at Bengaluru International Airport. Shivamurthy, who joined Airports Authority of India in 1974 retires in 2009, and plans to write his memoirs on his many trysts with the powers that be.

BIAL’s CEO Albert Brunner is failing to cope with this all too Indian problem - making VVIPs comfortable. After criticism of the cold reception at BIA Brunner has ensured a VIP lounge is in place.

If he followed the babus’ advice to “get Shivamurthy here or hire someone like him”, will the turbulence over BIA blow over?

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