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New passenger terminal puts Kolkata at par with Delhi

Facility has the capacity to handle large aircraft such as A380

Gulf News

Kolkata: The new state-of-the-art integrated passenger terminal at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) Airport was inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday evening and will be opened to the public in two months time.

Built at a cost of Rs2.3 billion (Dh157 million) by the joint venture of ITD Cementation India Ltd and its parent company Italian-Thai Development Public Co Ltd, Thailand (ITD), terminal will now have a covered area of 233,000 square metres. The integrated passenger terminal now will have capacity to handle almost three times the annual traffic compared to earlier. Annually, it will now be able to handle 20 million passengers compared to earlier capacity.

The departure facilities include 48 international and 80 domestic check-in counters, 38 immigration counters, 23 international and 33 domestic security gates with frisking booths. The arrival area has 40 immigration counters, 26 conveyor belts, six customs counters and 18 aerobridges.

V. P. Agrawal, chairman, Airports Authority of India (AAI), told Gulf News: “This terminal has all the facilities that any other terminal has anywhere in the world. It is designed to ensure it will be able to handle the needs of the city for next 40 years.”

Premchai Karnasuta, chairman, ITD Cementations said: “We are privileged and proud to be associated with the prestigious modernisation project of NSCBI Airport in Kolkata. We have incorporated high-tech specialised airport systems and the integrated passenger terminal now has world-class facilities for the convenience and comfort of passengers using the Kolkata airport”.

The earlier airport could not handle aircraft larger than a Boeing 747 but will now be able to handle an Airbus 380. An additional 11 parking bays have been added to the existing 12, thereby increasing their total to 23, he added.

However, politics seemed to douse the spirit associated with the inauguration. None of the leaders from the opposition was seen on the dais. Sources suggest Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was not keen to be seen with opposition Member of Parliament Sitaram Yechury who was instrumental in getting the terminal sanctioned.

Unlike other airports in the country such as Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad, the NCCBI was not handed over to private players for modernisation. The AAI did in participation with foreign builders and ex-chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya was instrumental in ensuring that Kolkata got a new terminal which he thought was important in his drive for industrialisation.

“The state government ensured that opposition leaders are nowhere near any platform so that they can take credit for things in which they had little to do. Whether it’s industrial summits or any government functions you will never see anyone from the opposition benches,” said leader of the opposition Surja Kanta Mishra.

“This politicisation of development is taking this state nowhere. Even during the CPM rule the scenario was same and Mamata is just carrying forward that tradition where ruling party and the opposition does not come together to take the state forward,” political analyst Sukanta Roy said.