Fresh assessment was taken up after experts, officials repeatedly raised concerns

Built at a cost of Rs. 450 crore, Chennai airport’s secondary runway, even three years after completion, is yet to see the light of day. Officials have now carried out another safety assessment of the runway.

According to officials, recently, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had asked the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to carry out a fresh safety assessment of the runway before it could be operationalised.

Earlier, experts and even AAI officials had raised concerns over safety issues. In view of this, a few AAI officials carried out this assessment recently, and the College of Engineering, Guindy, carried out Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) alone, an official said.

Work on extending the secondary runway from a little over 2,000 metres to 3,400 metres that started in 2009 and ended two years later was part of a modernisation project of the airport that cost over Rs. 2,000 crore.

Despite such a huge investment on the extension of the runway, according to the safety assessment report, only 1,800 metres may be put to use, an AAI official said. The report that has been forwarded to the headquarters will subsequently be sent to DGCA for clearance, he added.

Also, there are some obstructions which are yet to be cleared; there are no signs of an initiative to remove them, said the official.

Twice a week, the main runway is closed for two hours for maintenance and during this period, flight operations are suspended. The extension was planned to support the main runway, but with the elections on, there are no indications of it becoming operational anytime soon, the official added.

A recent government audit report released noted that there was a loss of interest of Rs. 190 crore over the secondary runway. Officials earlier told The Hindu that this was caused as some advice of DGCA was not taken into consideration.

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