Bangalore airport set to open amid storm

Written by Infrastructure Bureau | Bangalore, May 20 | Updated: May 22 2008, 04:30am hrs
The much-awaited greenfield international airport at Bangalore's Devanahalli will start operations on mid-night of Thursday. However controversies around the airport is yet to die down. A group of prominent citizens, including industry czars, former bureaucrats and social activists under the aegis of Bangalore City Connect Foundation (BCCF), on Tuesday appealed to the vacation bench of the Karnataka High Court, seeking the retention of the old HAL airport until its PIL was heard.

The BCCF had earlier filed a PIL in the high court seeking the courts intervention to allow twin airports in Bangalore. Genuine renegotiations on the concession agreement have not taken place among the project stakeholders despite a direction from the high court and the Supreme Court, it had argued.

According to BCCF sources, the high court has now asked the airports stakeholders, including its builder- consortium Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL), to present details of the renegotiations that took place. The vacation bench has scheduled the next hearing of the case for Wednesday, May 21.

The concession agreement of the new airport has a clause which does not allow another airport within 150 km of Devanahalli. BCCF members cite a future capacity constraint and transportation challenges between the city and Devanahalli, as arguments in favour of two functional airports in Bangalore.

BCCF member Ramesh Ramanathan said, Moreover, the formal position of the civil aviation ministry is that metros require two airports.

Others like Infosys' board member TV Mohandas Pai claimed that the Bangalore-brand would be hurt if its only airport is stationed over 30 km away from the city. BIAL however has said the new airport would open to commerce at 10 pm on Thursday for arrivals and at 1 am on Friday for departures.

Siemens Projects Ventures, Unique Zurich airport and Larsen and Toubro hold 74% stake in BIAL. The Airports Authority of India and Karnataka government hold the remaining 26% stake.