Commissioning of airport terminal to be delayed

Final HURDLE: Work on the approach road to a bridge connecting the new airport terminal and the National Highway bypass progressing near Chakka.

Final HURDLE: Work on the approach road to a bridge connecting the new airport terminal and the National Highway bypass progressing near Chakka.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: S. Mahinsha

S. Anil Radhakrishnan

Approach road and bridge not ready yet

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The new terminal of the international airport here will not be commissioned in the first week of January as planned because the approach road and a bridge across the Parvathy Puthanar to the complex are not ready.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) was hoping to get the terminal commissioned by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit here next week.

As much as 98 per cent of the work on the 19-metre-tall, three-storey building, estimated at Rs.245.58 crore, on the Chakka side has been completed.

“We are lined up for commissioning the terminal complex as announced by us. The lack of road connectivity is the hurdle before us. Normally, it will take over a month to commence the flight operations, as things have to stabilise,” outgoing Airport Director N. Nagraj told The Hindu.

The State government had promised to provide the road connectivity by December-end.

KITCO Ltd., formerly Kerala Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation Ltd., which has been entrusted with the work, says the road will be handed over by January 30.

The obligatory span will be cast on Monday night, an official said. But the AAI says the work will take months given its pace.

“We have alerted the government to the slow work … ,” a top AAI official said.

The road, estimated at Rs.21.73 crore, will connect the terminal to the National Highway bypass. AAI officials said the reason for the delay was the lack of coordination between KITCO and agencies such as the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and the Kerala Water Authority (KWA).

“Now the ball is in the court of the State to ensure connectivity and give land for the second phase of development,” the top official said.

Only 79 per cent of the work on the 170-metre-long, 30-metre-wide six-lane road has been completed. The water authority has partially shifted the pipes and the electricity board is yet to start shifting electrical posts and cables.

“All the blame has fallen on us. We had deposited Rs.5.5 lakh with the KSEB and Rs.3.75 lakh with the KWA over two months ago for shifting the utility lines. But they did not respond positively. The non-availability of sand was also a major problem that led to the delay,” a KITCO official said.

The AAI has completed a ramp to connect the approach road and the bridge to the parking bay in front of the terminal. Connecting the bridge to the ramp will take at least another 15 days.

Four ramps are needed at this point for the smooth entry and exit of vehicles. Three of the 220-metre-long ramps will be towards the Chakka side and another towards the Eenchakkal side. The ramps and the bridge will together come to 1.2 km.

The aerobridge procured from Indonesia is being installed.

The third aerobridge is on its way to the city. The Central Electrical Authority officials are expected here this week to inspect the power station and give approval.

Furnishing of the counters and offices allocated for 15 airlines and for the Customs and the Immigration departments will start this week. “The Customs officials had asked for some changes,” the AAI official said. The perimeter road will be strengthened for transporting cargo from the cargo complex at Shanghumughom to the terminal.

Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Vijayakumar has convened a meeting on Monday to review the progress of the work.

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