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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

AAI seeks Chief Minister's intervention

S. Anil Radhakrishnan

Impasse over commissioning of new international airport terminal


State government opposed to AAI plan

It wants Prime Minister to open the terminal


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has sought the intervention of Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan to end the impasse over the commissioning of the world class terminal of Thiruvananthapuram international airport as planned on December 12.

Airport Director G. Chandramouli met the Chief Minister on Friday and sought his ‘blessings' to commission the Rs.300-crore terminal as scheduled. The meeting comes in the wake of reports that the State government was opposed to the AAI plan of commissioning the terminal on December 12 and to hold the formal inauguration later.

This is the fifth time since May 20 that the move to commission the terminal is getting postponed at the last minute. The State is now insisting that the commissioning of the terminal can wait and that flight operations should commence only after the formal inauguration. The State also wants Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to open the terminal.

Highly placed sources said Mr. Chandramouli had briefed the Chief Minister about the new terminal and that it was ready for commissioning. ‘‘The Chief Minister is also of the view that the terminal should be commissioned at the earliest and he did not seek any deferment of the AAI plan to commence flight operations from the terminal on December 12,'' sources said.

The AAI is going ahead with the plan although the State government had expressed reservations. It has been pointed out that the decision to commission the terminal was taken at the AAI headquarters and approved by the Union Civil Aviation Ministry. Sources said it was officially communicated to Minister for Public Works, Law and Parliamentary Affairs M. Vijayakumar who is overseeing the terminal project. Only on Tuesday, the decision was communicated to the operating airlines, customs, immigration, security agencies and others by Mr. Chandramouli.

Following this, the State has come out against the commissioning of the terminal. Another reason citied for the postponement of the commissioning is the delay in taking a decision on collection of the user development fee of Rs.755 from all international flyers for 10 years.

The directive of the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA) is pending with the three-member AERA Appellate Tribunal headed by the former Supreme Court judge, Arijit Pasayat. Although the tribunal will hold a sitting in the capital on January 12, sources said a decision on the user development fee would take several months.

It has been pointed out that a strong lobby is working to delay the commissioning of the terminal by citing small issues like the traffic problems near Chakka and narrow ramps to the bridge constructed by the State across Parvathy Puthanar at a cost of Rs.27 crore. Sources said the AAI had chalked out contingency plan and kept the service road ready from near the Chakka bridge to the new terminal, in case of any contingency.

The AAI is also worried over the fate of the new domestic terminal that is to come up adjacent to the new international terminal.

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