French, HK firms among consultants for Kolkata airport

New Delhi 2 | Updated: Jun 1 2008, 03:15am hrs
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has approved consultants for the Kolkata project, which include Aeroport du Paris Internationale and RMJM of Hong Kong.

Kolkata airports modernisation work includes extension of the second runway, construction of rapid exit taxiways and aprons, upgradation of air traffic management and communication, navigation and surveillance systems and a brand new integrated terminal building to cater to 20 million passengers.

The existing international terminal has a capacity of 0.882 million passengers and domestic terminal has a capacity of 4.06 million passengers. The new Integrated Passenger Terminal will add a capacity of 20 million passengers and estimated to be done in 30 months by 2011. After much discussion, it was decided to develop an integrated terminal building and accordingly, the Inter Ministerial Group approved the developmental plan of the master plan.

The Civil Aviation Ministry had in August last year approved the detailed project report furnished by the AAI. The PMs Committee on Infrastructure approved Rs 1942.51 crore (Rs 1600 crores for the new integrated terminal building) Kolkata project in April 2007.

Acknowledging Yechury's charge that there had been delays in modernising Kolkata and Chennai airports, Civil Aviation Minister recently said the process of shortlisting construction firms among other related activities was already on.

The Kolkata airport terminals would be "managed and maintained by the AAI. It is only the allocated commercial space which would be run by private parties," Patel said.

The Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, headed by Sitaram Yechury, has also come down heavily on the Planning Commission for delays in modernisation of non-metro airports as also those in Kolkata and Chennai.

Work on Chennais new international airport is yet to be cleared at the pre-PIB level to iron out differences any concerned ministries may have on the project. The PIB grants clearances to all projects above Rs 50 crore to be undertaken by public sector undertakings after which the project goes to the CCEA for final approval.

The development of Chennai airport is estimated to cost Rs 1,808 crore (Rs 18.08 billion). Consultations have been held between the Ministry and the Tamil Nadu government for acquisition of 1,070 acres of land and hand it over to the AAI free of cost to carry out expansion and modernisation of the airport, keeping in mind the city's needs over the next two decades.

It is pertinent to note here that a modernisation process of non-metro airports - Udaipur and Amritsar - has also been stalled because of the Lefts objections on how much of the project should be completed under the public private partnership (PPP) model.

While an Inter Ministerial Group had recommended that the PPP model should apply inside the terminal building also till the check-in counters, the Lefts objections forced the government to retract and acknowledge private parties would be involved in works done outside the terminal building only. Now, the entire non-metro airport privatisation process is stuck because of the change in parameters midway.

Meanwhile, the Rs 2,000 crore project for modernising and upgrading Kolkata has been hanging fire due to similar objections despite the fact that the ministry has been asserting that there is no private participation in the modernisation at Kolkata airport.

During the meeting on Friday, the ministry is expected to convey its decision to conduct modular expansion which means expansion as per traffic increase in a phased manner - as also the fact that the terminal is being built as per projected traffic requirements.