Other elements of the project are yet to see the light of day
Air passengers may want to cast wary glances upwards while walking inside the terminals of Chennai airport.
After all, one never knows when a false ceiling may collapse. False ceiling panels that collapse frequently, cracked glass panels and granite flooring, stinking toilets and pigeon droppings in the terminals, which cost over Rs. 2000 crore, have marred the experience of flying for passengers.
Thirty-five-year-old T. Satish, a corporate head in a private firm, and a frequent flier, said, “Considering the money invested, this airport is a disappointment. The swanky look is pointless if passenger facilities are not upto the mark. Once I had to board a domestic flight from the old international terminal; I was not told about this in advance and so had to walk a long distance due to the lack of a walkalator. Toilets in the new domestic terminal are an eyesore too,” he added.
It doesn’t end here. While the two terminals, which are important components of the Chennai airport expansion, have at least been commissioned, other elements of the project are yet to see the light of day. The expansion project — that also included the extension of the secondary runway over the Adyar river, construction of additional parking bays and a new category 10 fire station — was inaugurated in 2008 and was scheduled to be completed in 36 months. Two years past its deadline, the project is nowhere close to completion.
“A state-of-the-art fire station was constructed at a cost of nearly Rs. 10 crore a year ago but we are yet to shift. Several additional parking stands have been constructed but lie idle. We are unable to use them due to obstructions,” said an official of Airports Authority of India (AAI).
Similarly, more than a year after its completion, the secondary runway still lies unused. Experts, time and again, have pointed to the safety issues that the bridge grapples with; it is yet to be examined by IIT experts.
A travelator and a multi-level car parking too was part of the expansion project. These facilities were subsequently postponed as part of austerity measures, officials said.
AAI chairman V.P. Agrawal said that steps were being taken to resolve the issues in the terminals, “I have already sent an architect to examine the building with regard to the issue of the false ceiling. Experts from IIT-M will also examine the issues,” he said.
D. Sudhakar Reddy of Air Passengers’ Association of India (APAI) demanded a CBI enquiry into the construction of the new terminals and the project as a whole. “The CAG must audit the project and inspect the cost escalation,” he demanded.