House panel, Home Secretary quiz Delhi airport officials

Focus on infrastructure gaps at Indira Gandhi International airport

Published - December 15, 2022 09:56 pm IST - New Delhi

Photo used for representation purpose only. File

Photo used for representation purpose only. File | Photo Credit: Reuters

A parliamentary standing committee has questioned the officials of Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) on infrastructure gaps at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport resulting in over-crowding, long queues and passengers missing their flights in the recent past.

The Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture chaired by YSR Congress Party leader Vijaysai Reddy was holding the meeting to discuss an agenda that was decided before the messy scenes unfolded at the IGI over the past 10 days on “Development of Greenfield and Brownfield Airports and Issues pertaining to Civil Enclaves in Defence Airports”.

However, informed sources said a significant amount of time was spent on discussing complaints surrounding passenger inconvenience due to congestion at entry gates, check-in counters and security check at the IGI.

The meeting was attended by DIAL deputy Managing Director Narayan Rao as well as officials of the Association of Private Airport Operators (APAO). Members expressed regret that DIAL CEO Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, who was summoned, was not present himself.

Revival in demand

The DIAL officials sought to blame the revival in passenger demand, which has breached pre-COVID levels and reached a record 4.27 lakh on Sunday. One miffed member said, “while the number of flights and passengers have increased, the security counters and boarding gates remain the same.”

DIAL officials said they had been working with the government to streamline the passenger flow. Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia has announced a slew of measures to curb congestion, including opening new security lanes as well as more entry gates.

The members, though were not satisfied with the replies of airport officials, also quizzed them about other passenger amenities such as drinking water being sold at ₹200.

Addressing the media after the meeting, Mr. Rao said the situation would normalise soon. “The number of passengers has increased manifold post-COVID. We are taking all the necessary steps to bring it under control soon.”

Immigration facility

A separate meeting was held by Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla on the immigration facility at the airport. The meeting held earlier in the day was also attended by the Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Director of Intelligence Bureau, Bureau of Immigration, Central Industry Security Force (CISF) and DIAL officials.

It is reliably learnt that Mr. Bhalla raised concerns about slow movement of immigration queues and discussed the need to ensure all immigration counters were manned, as well as the need for the airport to provide space for more counters. The broader issue of infrastructure gaps, including security infrastructure and those pertaining to passenger amenities was also discussed.

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