“We should be glad for this announcement but it is a long pending due for Tamil Nadu,” said a senior state official.
The much delayed Chennai airport expansion programme got a fillip with the Union Cabinet approving three major infrastructure projects on Wednesday — new terminal buildings at Guwahati, Chennai and Lucknow airports. “It will go a long way in ensuring superior air travel experience for people.
The new terminal building approved has a capacity of 35 million passengers per annum, and will take care of growth requirements till 2027. It will be built at a cost of Rs 2,467 crore, according to Union commerce & industry and civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the upgradation and expansion of the existing Chennai airport that will comprise new terminal buildings.
The new airport terminal buildings will be operational by December 2021 and can handle 35 million passengers annually. However, there was no announcement from the minister on the proposed greenfield airport near Sriperumbudur which requires an investment of Rs 15,000 crore.
According to a recent study by Tamil Nadu government officials, Tamil Nadu needs a total outlay of Rs 21,500 crore including Rs 6,500 crore for the expansion of Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchy airports.
“We should be glad for this announcement but it is a long pending due for Tamil Nadu,” said a senior state official. The state is ready to spend for land acquisition, but the Centre has been silent on the greenfield airport for the past four years. Former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa was ambitious in establishing a greenfield airport near Chennai to handle 40 million passenger and 1 million ton (MT) cargo capacity per year. Plans to upgrade Coimbatore, Tiruchy and Madurai to international class with a capacity to handle 10 million passengers also lie in limbo with no funds coming from the union ministry, the official said.
According to Chennai airport sources, in 2012 the city recorded a daily average of 14,500 international passengers and 23,600 domestic passengers and there is a 2 to 3 percent steady growth in the number of passengers every year. Air traffic control tower, fire fighting equipment, pollution control equipment, operational buildings and utilities are the other areas that require major upgradation in Chennai airport, sources added.
“Chennai airport lacks in terms of service and hygiene and we do not even match the standards maintained by other Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore,” said Alex Raja, who is a frequent flyer between Chennai and Kuala Lumpur.