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Not VIP? Lug your luggage as chaos reigns outside arrival level of Kolkata airport

Beacon cars hog kerbside at airport, chaos reigns

Sanjay Mandal, Monalisa Chaudhuri | Published 22.12.23, 05:57 AM
Cars parked in multiple rows at the arrival level in front of the terminal building on Monday night as the kerbside is blocked by VIP vehicles

Cars parked in multiple rows at the arrival level in front of the terminal building on Monday night as the kerbside is blocked by VIP vehicles

Welcome to Kolkata airport! Here, chaos reigns outside the arrival level of the terminal building as VIP cars hog the entire kerbside and ordinary travellers are forced to lug their bags to the middle of the driveway to board their vehicles.

Earlier this week, The Telegraph was present at the airport from 11pm past midnight to witness what happens outside the terminal at night when vehicles are many, passengers are in a rush and police are missing.

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On Monday, there were several beacon-fitted cars, parked late in the night, covering the stretch in front of gates 3A, 3B and 3C and beyond.

As flights were arriving, “non-VIP” passengers were coming out of the terminal building, many of them with several pieces of luggage on trolleys.

“Our car is in the parking area of the airport but it is difficult to get the trolley so far. So we called the driver and asked him to bring the car in front of the terminal,” said one passenger who arrived from Bangalore.

There were several such passengers who had called their drivers to bring their cars in front of the terminal. However, since the VIP cars fitted with beacons and some with stickers and boards announcing that they ferry government officials were occupying the kerbside, the private vehicles were forced to stand in the second row. And as the logjam dragged on, a third row started forming.

This newspaper saw many passengers dragging their luggage one by one to their cars, which was taking a long time. As a result, there were long queues of cars in two rows. Those behind, and had finished loading their luggage, were honking to get clearance.

Along with private vehicles, app cabs were also stopping to take passengers and luggage.

If the vehicles could park along the kerb, the process would have been faster.

Adding to the honking and queues were vehicles trying to make their way through the chaos, making it unsafe for passengers who were crossing the lane towards the carpark.

No police personnel made an appearance in more than an hour The Telegraph spent there. Marshals appointed by the airport authority were also missing.

This newspaper has reported several times how so-called VIP cars occupy the kerbside of the arrival area despite a separate parking lot allotted for such vehicles.

Whenever a car enters the airport, it is issued a slip that mentions the time of entry. Vehicles are allowed to stay on the airport premises free of charge for seven minutes. If a car stays longer, marshals hired by the airport are to collect a fine of Rs 400 from the driver, said an airport official.

A senior official of the airport said the security personnel in the VIP cars do not listen to these marshals. “We will soon hold a meeting with the police and again request them to manage the lanes properly,” said the official.

Another airport official said the police are supposed to be on duty at night.

A senior officer of the Bidhannagar City Police said usually five cops are deployed in the arrival area after 11pm.

“Sometimes, elderly passengers seek our help to book an online cab, sometimes a flight gets delayed and too many passengers crowd the arrival lounge. In such cases, the visibility of police personnel naturally becomes low,” he said.

The officer said they were reviewing the security arrangements and will decide whether the deployment outside the airport needs to be increased post-11pm.

“If there is a complaint, we will verify it and take corrective measures,” said Bidhannagar police commissioner Gaurav Sharma.

Last updated on 22.12.23, 05:57 AM
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