Construction of the new integrated terminal at the Chennai airport has been delayed, as there is excessive hard rock underground, hampering digging work.
Officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said it had slowed down because it was very tough carrying out the excavation work, until recently.
“The construction of the basement was going on, and the contractor found it challenging to dig here, owing to geological conditions. So on two occasions, they had to carry out controlled blasting to break the hard rock. Now there is progress, and we hope to catch up the lost time and finish it by next year,” an official said.
Hard rock in area
Nearly 20% of construction has been completed so far, another official said.
It is hard rock that is found in the area where the Chennai airport is located, said experts at IIT-Madras. “If they don’t go too deep, then it may be relatively easier to excavate and build, because the deeper they go, it may get difficult,” a geotechnical expert at IIT-M said.
The new integrated building, being constructed at an estimated cost of ₹2,500 crore, is part of the phase II modernisation project of the airort, and the aim is to expand the passenger handling capacity from 18 million to 35 million.
It will also have a host of additional facilities such as e-gates, baggage drop-off counters and self bag-tag kiosks.
When the new terminal becomes completely operational, there will be changes such as the functioning of the domestic terminal will be split and the existing domestic and international terminals will operate as the new domestic terminal; the old Kamaraj Domestic Terminal and the Anna International Terminal will be converted into one single new international terminal, officials said.
All the phase II modernisation works will be entirely complete and operational by 2021, they added.