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22 Dec 2017

Bagdogra Airport cries for new Terminal

MANAS R BANERJEE, SNS, 21 DECEMBER: While on one hand state tourism minister Gautam Deb has been claiming that the government is trying to manage land from two tea estates for the Bagdogra Airport expansion plans, airport director Rakesh R Sahay has said that it is now high time that they have a new terminal building to ease the congestion and several other problems.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has urged the state government to provide at least 11.10 acres of land attached to the present airport, including the runway.
According to Bagdogra Airport authorities, a final proposal was tabled a month ago after a series of meetings with state government officials, while the AA1 demanded 100 acres of land for the expansion project.
Official sources said the airport presently stand on 30.16 acres of land, while the state has already handed over 9.16 acres for setting up the Instrumental Landing System (ILS) so that flights can land even in the night and during dense fog. Asked to comment on the congestion problems in and around the airport and if there are permanent solutions, Mr Sahay said: "It is high time we build a new terminal building to ease the congestion. A final proposal has been sent to the state government, demanding 100 acres of land. We have taken over 9.16 acres from the state to ready the ILS facility. The detailed project report has been given to the state government a month ago." According to him, the capacity of the Bagdogra Airport is 75 Lakh passengers yearly, while the present flow is 20 lakh.
Considering the current growth, it is estimated that the growth rate could go up by 56 per cent, while the expansion plans have been made for the next 20 years when the number of passengers has been estimated to grow to 7 million.
Admitting the problems of long queues of passengers and space constraints in the security- hold areas, Mr Sahay said a new building is imperative to cater to passengers in the security-hold areas. A recent survey has revealed that in around 800 passengers and 250 vehicles enter the airport in peak hours.
"The situation may turn critical if all passengers enter the security- hold area at one go, as the capacity is to accomodate only around 400 to 500 passengers," sources said.
Passengers have often complained that there are no adequate sitting arrangements in the terminals, while passengers preferred to enter the security-hold areas and stand in a long queue, which they say was more comfortable than finding a chair and sitting. "In the detailed project report, it has been proposed that security hold areas in the new terminal building would handle 1,000 passengers during peak hours" Mr Sahay said.
"There is also a proposal to build a multi-layer parking area so that it can accommodate 1000 vehicles, as the present capacity is 300 vehicles. The capacity of the parking area for aircraft is only five. Proposal has been made for expanding the airport in such a way that 25 aircraft can be parked at a time.The proposals have been readied for the next 20 years," Mr Sahay said.
"It will take at least three years for the expansion project to be ready if the land is made available. A huge plot of land is required to build a new terminal building and to bring in massive changes, from building parking spaces for aircraft, constructing aero bridges and facilitating hasslefree boarding," Mr Sahay said. The AAI is suffering huge business losses after cargo facility at Bagdogra Airport failed to develop due to space constraints, and this at a time when floriculturists in Kalimpong have found markets in major cities across the country, including Bangalore," he added.
(To be continued)

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