Sunday, November 27, 2005

Airport project on course

Airport project on course
Deccan Herald

Apprehensions about passenger capacity and architecture may have come in as a speed-breaker to the Devanahalli International Airport. However, the project’s lead players feel that on ground, the damage is not done. Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel’s reported concerns about the airport’s look and ability to handle the booming traffic could just prove not potentially devastating for the project, which has been planned in modules and designed to accommodate changes in phases.

Principal Secretary to Government, Infrastructure Development Department Vinay Kumar says changes to the project were given considering the rise in projected air traffic, but chooses to shrug it off as a functional adjustment which could be worked on. “Everyone agrees that considering by the time the airport is open, (April, 2008), the traffic would be around six million per year and we need to incorporate the changes. The changes are being worked on,” he says and adds that the figure of 4.5 million passengers was arrived at only for the first phase of the project.

“The land is adequate and can house an airport catering to around 40 million passengers. The idea will be to develop the airport and update its passenger capacity in phases as the years go by,” he says.

The Principal Secretary is not ruffled by the the concern over the airport’s look either. “When it’s about aesthetics, we are talking about subjective tastes. Anyway, we have room to accommodate the structural changes. So, I don’t see an issue here,” he says.

Ground reality

The last of the land acquisitions — 180 acres for the runway realignment and 60 acres for trumpet interchanges and access-ways — have been made. In November 11 meeting involving the Infrastructure Department, Railways, BWSSB, KPTCL and the National Highways Department, existing on-ground issues were also debated on.

One of the two upcoming railway-level crossings on NH-7 in the airport neighbourhood had suffered a setback over issues with the contractor.

A fresh tender has been issued on the work, while work on the other crossing would also start soon, both set for March 2006 and December 2006 deadlines respectively. The tender for KPTCL’s 220 KV station has also been awarded.

“As for water, two types of water would be supplied to the site — potable water and non-potable water, for the construction. Non-potable water has already reached the site and we are in the last stage of putting the lines in place for potable water. We should be on by January, 2006,” says Mr Vinay Kumar.

The entire compensation for the acquired sites has also been delivered, according to him. “Around 130 families had still not moved out. It was done only after the groundwork started on the site,” he says.


Even as the Devanahalli project hogs headlines for all reasons, Karnataka is already looking at a bigger picture. A team of delegates showcased the State as a Civil Aviation destination in a London meet last week. India Invest, a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Business Council and the British High Commission, presented a platform for inviting potential investors to the State in the sectors of Tourism and Civil Aviation.

“With the launch of British Airways flights from Bangalore and the three ongoing airport projects in Bangalore, Mangalore and Mysore, the mood was very upbeat at the meet,” says Mr Vinay Kumar.


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