Special Correspondent

Consortium asked to make changes in design, says Praful Patel

Bangalore: Work on the Bangalore International Airport at Devanahalli is "right on track" and the first phase should be ready in 2008 as scheduled, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel said here on Saturday.

"We were not very happy with the original design for the airport and asked the consortium behind the project to make some changes which have been carried out," Mr. Patel told presspersons after launching the telemedicine link between Air India facilities in Mumbai and Narayana Hrudyalaya here.

The design modifications were necessary because the original traffic projections for 2008, the first phase of the airport project, are now expected to be much higher than the estimated four million passengers and is likely to touch the traffic projected for the second phase to be completed by 2015, Mr. Patel said. The original design would have been inadequate to handle the increased traffic. The design of the new airport and the facilities there will be of "high quality and world class," he said.

Referring to the request for discounted fares on Indian airline for patients from other States coming to Bangalore for heart surgery, he said: "It is a worthy cause and I will certainly discuss it with the director of the airlines... we must do whatever is possible to help."

About telemedicine links on long haul flights of Air India, he said this will be worked out with the airlines. "The new Boeing aircraft being acquired by Air India are Internet enabled and telemedicine link will not be difficult," he said. As far as "air ambulances" are concerned, it has to be private sector initiative and the Ministry will provide tactical support, including priority in landing wherever necessary, he said.

Medical tourism

Medical tourism will be promoted in a large way. Efforts should be made to enable more persons in other countries needing specialised treatment at a lower cost, to come to centres such as Bangalore, he said.

More In: Today's Paper