The private agency tasked with keeping Calcutta airport’s new terminal clean submitted a formal proposal to the authorities on Friday saying it was “impossible” to keep the facility spick and span with the existing man-machine-money power.
Impressions, the Delhi-headquartered company that won the Rs 19-lakh-a-month contract, told the Airports Authority of India it would need at least 330 men and 18 machines, which would raise the cost to Rs 40 lakh a month.
The agency now employs only around 130 people and eight machines to clean the 180,000square metre facility.
“There is no other way but to add more cleaning personnel but the additional cost factor needs to be discussed in detail,” a senior official of Calcutta airport told Metro.
The cost appeared to be a greater priority than quality for AAI officials even on Friday. They said it would be difficult to pay the entire additional cost demanded by the private agency.
“We are trying to raise the cost as much as possible within the conditions laid down by the tender documents. It may not be possible to completely agree to the demand made by the private agency but we are trying,” a senior airport official said.
“If we double the contract price at this stage, some of the higher bidders in the tender process might raise objections,” he added.
Officials of Impressions held several meetings through Thursday and Friday with the airport authorities to find a solution to the mounting passenger peeve.
Airport sources said the agency had proposed to add 210 cleaning personnel. Each of the three shifts would have 110 personnel, 70 more than the number deployed now.
“The additional men and women will be brought in especially to clean the washrooms, which are now wet most of the time. We have asked the agency to deploy at least one person in each washroom,” said an airport official.
Since March 15, when the new terminal became fully operational with all domestic and international operations, passengers have been complaining about filthy loos and spilling garbage bins.
On the lines of the Metro campaign, Trinamul MP Derek O’Brien wrote a letter to civil aviation minister Ajit Singh on Friday, complaining about the new terminal.
“I am writing to you as a concerned citizen of Calcutta, appalled and disgusted by the state of the new terminal. After years and decades of waiting, your ministry and the Airports Authority of India, a body that comes under your superintendence, deigned to give Calcutta the modern airport terminal it deserved. Alas, the AAI and your ministry have far from delivered on your promises,” O’Brien wrote.
He asked why the terminal had been thrown open despite being only half-ready, in the absence of proper signage, food and beverage counters and cleaners.
In Calcutta, the contract for the cleaning job had gone to the lowest bidder. Sources said after Impressions won the contract, it drew up an estimate of personnel required to suit the price it had quoted. “The initial estimate of 126 cleaners was drawn up by Impressions based on the Rs 19 lakh cost,” an airport official said.
Sources in the agency suggested the airport authorities were not clear about the scale of work. “The tender didn’t mention cleaning washrooms and the footfalls projected was low,” said a source.
The authorities had projected a footfall of 22,000, while on Friday around 24,000 people used the terminal.