For international cargo complex in Madurai airport

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has approved the civil engineering drawings for converting the old terminal building at the Madurai airport into an International Cargo Complex. The drawings have been forwarded to the Airport Director here for execution, according to T.S. Chandramouli, Regional Executive Director of AAI at Chennai.

Mr. Chandramouli told The Hindu over phone that instructions had been issued to the Airport Director to execute the work on a “war footing basis” as it was nearly seven months since the Union Finance Ministry issued a notification on May 28 permitting international cargo movement from here.

Confirming that he had received the drawings, Airport Director K. Sangiah Pandian said that works were underway to prepare the estimates, get them approved by the AAI, call for tenders and then award the civil contract to a reputed contractor. “We are working with a target of three months and hope to complete the works on time,” he said.

Mr. Pandian said that he had written to officials under the Union Ministry of Agriculture to depute their staff for establishing ‘plant quarantine’ facility in the proposed cargo complex. Perishable goods such as fruits, vegetables and flowers, especially the authentic ‘Madurai Malli’ with Geographic Indication tag, cannot be exported without the quarantine facility.

The plant quarantine officer had to examine the perishable commodities for contamination or other bio hazards through globally accepted procedures and certify the products to be free of parasites, fungus and other viruses.

Perishable commodities carrying such certification alone would be accepted by the importing countries.

At present, traders here were exporting their goods through airports in Tiruchi, Chennai, Coimbatore and Thiruvanathapuram.

“Establishing the cargo complex without quarantine facility might not be of much use because many traders here import perishable goods,” said a private travel agent who also facilitates export of goods through Tiruchi airport.

A new integrated terminal building constructed at a cost of over Rs. 128 crore was inaugurated at the airport here in September 2010. Since then, the old terminal building was being used as an administrative office building of the AAI.

At present, the airport was connected to two international destinations — Colombo and Dubai — and trade bodies here had been demanding a cargo complex for long.

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