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Tuesday , January 8 , 2013
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Airport clean-up fails to take off

before after
An overflowing garbage bin (left) was cleared, but its contents were kept in a plastic bag near it for more than an hour. (Pictures by Sushovan Sircar)

A day after highlighting the appalling condition of the Calcutta airport because of the absence of maintenance staff, Metro went to take fresh stock of the situation and found half-hearted attempts at a clean-up.

At about 2pm when the passenger load is comparatively less in the domestic terminal, most of the garbage bins were full, and the contents — paper plates, cups and plastic waste — were spilling over to the floor. The toilets, too, were overflowing and a stinking mess.

Luggage trolleys were hard to find. There were some that had broken down but no one removed them from the passenger area. The floor in front of the check-in counters was littered with scraps of paper and heaps of plastic threads used for locking registered luggage.

“Ridiculously bad,” was how Saurabh Bhattacharya, a 20-year-old engineering student described the toilet. “One doesn’t expect such filth at an airport in a metropolis,” he said after spending two hours at the lounge.

An overflowing garbage bin was cleared but the rubbish was kept in a plastic waste bag next to the bin, in full view of the passengers, for more than an hour.

Metro had reported in Monday’s edition that a section of Group C and D staff, responsible for housekeeping, maintenance and other key departments, were staying away from work even though they were reporting for duty, using the January 29 union elections as an excuse.

“Today, things improved compared with the last couple of weeks but there was still a tendency among a large section of the maintenance staff to go away, saying they were busy in election campaign,” said an airport official.

The official added that there was a shortage of trolleys during the morning peak hours.

“Several passengers had complained that trolleys were unavailable,” he added.

Things were equally bad at the international terminal.

“The washroom on the first floor was like a a roadside public toilet. It was full of cigarette butts and discarded chewing gum,” said Ranjoy Choudhuri, who took an Air India flight to New York.

Though the official that Metro spoke to conceded in private that the situation was bad, none would say so officially.

“It’s true that some of the staff members who are fighting the elections for office bearer posts are busy with the election. But other staff are working as usual,” said airport director B.P. Sharma.

He said the maintenance of the new integrated terminal — to which operations will shift by the end of the month —would be handed over to a private agency.