Unable to move VIP cars away from the kerbside at Kolkata airport, the authorities have planned a separate entry and exit for these people when a new terminal comes up.
In the next phase of the airport expansion plan, the old domestic terminal building will be demolished to make room for a new terminal. That plan has yet to be approved.
An official at the Airports Authority of India, which runs the city airport, said they are planning a system in Kolkata similar to Delhi’s. At the Delhi airport, there is a separate exit gate for VIPs where their cars are also parked.
“We have proposed a similar plan for the Kolkata airport when the expansion takes place. The proposal, which is to be approved by the headquarters in Delhi, is for a separate exit for VIPs in the extreme right end of the expanded terminal building,” a senior airport official told The Telegraph.
“The VIP car park will also be there. So these cars will not need to be parked in front of the gates meant for other passengers,” he said.
“It is impossible to remove the VIP cars, which remain parked for long in front of the terminal building at the arrival level. Whenever our staff or parking agency people have tried to remove the cars, guards and at times cops shoo them away.”
Asked why the airport authorities were not filing complaints with the departments to which these cars belong, the official said: “The cars belong to so many departments, of the Bengal government, Centre and governments of other states. It is difficult to send such complaints to individual departments.”
This newspaper visited the airport on November 8 and found parking at will continued unchecked for vehicles fitted with beacon lights or with boards denoting they ferry government officials.
The airport authorities have created a designated parking zone for such vehicles at the approach to the airport, where the road takes a right turn. That parking lot was empty on November 8 from noon till 2 pm. The signage for VIP parking, which was reinstated the previous week, went missing again on November 8.
The first lane outside the terminal at the arrival level looked its usual self with a snaking queue of cars. Vehicles fitted with beacons and boards or stickers announcing they ferried senior government officials remained parked in front of the terminal for long durations.
Many vehicles were parked in the second lane as well, triggering snarls that turned unmanageable when flights were landing in quick succession.
This newspaper spotted many people struggling to get to their cars or app cabs with their luggage in front of gate number 3A because of the vehicles parked in the first couple of lanes in front of the building at the arrival level.
The Telegraph has reported on many occasions how the drivers of these VIP vehicles, some fitted with beacon lights and others with stickers or boards announcing they ferry government functionaries, remained parked in front of the terminal building for as long as an hour or even more.
Vehicles are allowed to stay on the airport premises for 10 minutes. If any car stays for a longer period, marshals deployed by the private agency that runs the airport’s parking lot are to collect a fine of Rs 400 from the driver.
A senior officer of the Bidhannagar commissionerate who did not wish to be named said they were not in charge of collecting parking fines from vehicles.
“The parking fees and fines are collected by an agency engaged by the airport authorities,” said the officer.