Airport authorities say it’s nothing unusual; experts allege bad workmanship

After cracks in glass panels and a collapsing false ceiling, the latest infrastructural lapse in Chennai airport involves cracks in the granite flooring of the building.

Several stones laid near the baggage conveyor belts in the arrival hall of the new domestic terminal have developed cracks that extend up to 10-15 feet, said officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

“Cracks due to expansion and contraction of granite are common in any new building. It looks like a hairline crack and so, we will have to replace the granite stones,” said an official.

He added that a firm called PRP Granites had supplied the stones to the airport and the material was of high quality. The company was unavailable for comment.

Another official said that the reinforced concrete underneath the granite surface might be faulty. “We suspect that the reinforced concrete structure may not have been built in such a way as to take the load on the surface, leading to the cracks. We still don’t know if the cracks have extended to below the baggage conveyor belts,” he said.

An engineering expert from IIT-Madras, while saying that it would be hard to identify the reason for the cracks without looking at their pattern and angle, suggested the floor mortar and reinforced concrete structure may not have been laid properly. “Usually, public buildings should be designed to take a load of about 500 kilos/ sq.m. The cracks reflect poor workmanship,” he said.

Built at a cost of over Rs. 2,000 crore, the new terminals in Chennai airport were inaugurated in January.

The domestic terminal was commissioned in April but the international facility is yet to be thrown open.

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