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Terminal on track: Minister

- Officials doubt Saugata claim

Union minister Saugata Roy is confident that the new integrated terminal at Calcutta airport will be ready by September 30, despite at least five hurdles threatening to delay the Rs 2,400crore modernisation project.

“Aerobridges, essential components of a modern airport, are yet to arrive. The inline baggage X-ray, baggage sorting system and counters for immigration and customs would take time to become operational,” an official involved in the project pointed out.

That apart, the Airports Authority of India is yet to finalise tenders for the selection of private partners that would run lounges and other commercial areas in the new terminal.

The Calcutta airport modernisation project has already missed three deadlines — August and December 2011 and March 2012. October 2012 is the latest deadline.

The terminal had its trial run on July 15, when passengers of an IndiGo flight were allowed to use the international lounge on their arrival from Mumbai.

“All work at the new terminal will be complete by September 30. After that the state and central governments will decide on the date of the inauguration,” said Roy, Union minister of state for urban development and chairman of advisory committee of Calcutta airport. The panel members inspected the facilities at the integrated terminal on Friday.

“Aerobridges, however, are a major issue. Not one of the 18 aerobridges that will be installed has come. Once they do, there’ll be no work left,” said the minister.

Airport director B.P. Sharma said seven of the 18 aerobridges — an Indonesian firm was given the contract to build all — will be shipped by the middle of this month.

“Airports Authority of India engineers from Delhi inspected the seven aerobridges in Indonesia last month. Once shipped, it would take around 15 days for them to arrive in Calcutta. The infrastructure for setting up the aerobridges is ready,” the director said.

Airport officials unwilling to be named, however, said the aerobridges would take a month after installation to become operational.

As for the remaining aerobridges, there is no word on when they could arrive. “The 11 remaining aerobridges will come in the next consignment,” was what the airport director would say.

The new terminal has been designed in such a way that around 70 per cent of the passengers will be using aerobridges to get on and off aircraft.

The inline baggage X-ray system, another key feature of the new terminal, is yet to be installed. The tendering process for selecting private operators to run the lounges and other commercial spaces is far from complete. “These are being done in Delhi,” said minister Roy said.

“Unless all the facilities are ready, one can’t say that a terminal is fully functional,” an official pointed out.

Traffic restriction

Vehicles not bound for the airport would not be allowed to enter the premises between 6pm and 9pm, minister Saugata Roy announced on Friday. “The decision has been taken to reduce congestion in the airport compound during evening peak hours. It will be implemented soon.”

Now, vehicles plying between Jessore Road and VIP Road are allowed to take a short-cut through the airport.

The minister also announced that the PWD would take up beautification work at the entrance to the airport on VIP Road. A foot overbridge with escalators will be set up on VIP Road at the Kaikhali crossing.