S. Anil Radhakrishnan

First step towards taking up the work of the airport terminal on the Chaka side

Thiruvananthapuram: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has started the construction of the boundary wall in the land handed over by the State Government for developing the Thiruvananthapuram international airport.

The construction of the boundary wall has been undertaken by the AAI at a cost of Rs.50 lakhs and would be completed within four months, a top AAI official told The Hindu . The construction of the boundary wall is the first step towards taking up the work of the world-class terminal for the airport on the Chaka side.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has granted the environmental clearance and the Public Investment Board clearance for the project. "We are awaiting the final nod from the Sub-committee of Union Cabinet any time," he said. According to the original plan, the AAI had sought 109.26 hectares for the project. But opposition from local people forced the authorities to scale down to the area to 48.56 hectares. Of this, the Government had handed over 11.15 hectares of land. A sum of Rs.10 crores had been allocated in the Budget presented by Minister for Finance Thomas Isaac for acquisition of the remaining land for the terminal project.

Meanwhile, apprehensions have been raised that Kerala style of architecture, escalation in traffic with the entry of private airlines and tourism boom and the future development with commissioning of the proposed Vizhinjam transhipment container terminal have not been considered while finalising the design for the terminal building.

The three-storied terminal building with a floor area of 20,000 sq. metres designed by a consortium of three companies and approved by the AAI, is basically of tubular design. It has been pointed out that a building of traditional architecture would have jelled with the topography of the place and would have been more suitable instead of the proposed glasshouse.

Concern has also been raised over the likely increase in temperature owing to the scattering of radiation from the huge glasshouse structure.

According to the official, the future needs had been taken into account in the new terminal. All modern facilities in world-class airports such as escalators, elevators and aerobridges would be provided in the new terminal. The terminal would be able to handle the passengers of two AB 300's and one B 747 aircraft at a time.

The annual handling capacity of the terminal would be 13.30 lakhs. The parking lot would be able to accommodate 575 cars. According to the official, the new terminal on the city side would have four parking bays in the first phase and another four in the second phase. Moreover, the existing parking bays of the airport can also be used.

The idea is to use the existing international terminal for domestic operations once the new terminal is commissioned. The AAI has already started work for the two aerobridges being set up at the international terminal.