I took the 4.50pm Indigo flight to Delhi on Thursday evening.
The moment I entered the new terminal, it seemed fantastic. It had a great view. But then I realised that the whole place had dust. Work was still going on. There was no signage, no directional signage and why they were not up, I donít know. Theyíve got the signage on the toilet but you donít know how to get there.
Youíre supposed to have a lot of cafes, but there was only one after you cross security. Nothing before that. The second was in progress. There were even wires running across while you checked in.
My point is if anything has to be corrected, do it during a non-operational hour. Or mask it. There are ways to do it. You look around and you see a guy with a bucket of paint!
I went to the toilet. It was a miserable mess. There was water all over the place. People had spat paan in the basin already!
I asked the maintenance guy and he said, ďSir, thereís 150,000 square metre of cleaning to be done and only 120 people to do it.Ē
We got the drinking water behind the toilet, which is fine. But no one knows how to get there. A small piece of paper ó 75mm X 200mm ó has ĎDrinking Waterí written on it, with an arrow.
I didnít see many dustbins either. You need a dustbin every five metres.
I feel the challenge is going to be how to keep the dust out.
Almost all of the airport is glass and faÁade cleaning is a 24x7 job, non-stop. One whole glazing was shattered, though still standing. Thatís okay because glass cracks and it takes time until the replacement piece arrives.
But I was digging for information and the maintenance guy told me that the guy who was doing the glass had run away! I donít know what he meant by that ó whether heís not working for them anymore or what. I mean you have to get the basics like the AMC (annual maintenance contract) right.
I sat on a chair and it had a cheap finish like stainless steel. The logo of one of the chairs was already gone.
The airport has noisy Schindler escalators and there were three engineers there. The escalatorís teeth had not been cleaned.
Finally, after going through this whole airport, we still had to take a bus to the aircraft! Whatever happened to the aerobridges?
The last word? The airport is fantastic, the check-in is fantastic. Theyíve done a fantastic job ó itís spacious, itís nice. Yes, itís better than Delhi and Mumbai. And itís going to be all right. But we have to get the basics right from Day One. Itís difficult to build a Taj Mahal but itís even more difficult to maintain it.
Note: The airport is swanky, itís brilliant, my message to people of Calcutta is: letís keep it clean. If you see somebody doing something wrong, point it out. As citizens, we should have a sense of duty towards our city.
[Sanjeev Mehra is the GM, operations, CESC Properties Ltd. A specialist in managing large public spaces, he was vice-president, operations, of the South City Mall before this]