New Kolkata terminal: Beware of crashing glass panes, rubble, water seepage

Kolkata, May 15 (IANS) A day after a glass pane came tumbling down, closely missing two wheelchair-bound passengers in the domestic section of the new Rs.20 million terminal of the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, a pile of rubble, a defunct beverage kiosk and a large patch on the carpeted floor greeted tourists at the minimalist international lounge.

The two infirm Delhi-bound women passengers – S. Ghosh and S. Mitra – looked on helplessly at the glasspane shattering into shreds inches away from them near their assigned departure gate, as other passengers ran for their safety Tuesday.

Another tragedy was averted soon after, with the staff wheeling away the duo seconds before some more pieces of glass crashed down at the same place.

According to people at the airport who did not wish to be named, this was the sixth instance of glass panes giving way over the past couple of months in the swanky state-of-the-art new terminal, inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee January 21.

The new terminal, spread over 1.80 lakh sq m, has 44,000 glass panes, brought from Austria.

While the two passengers at the domestic section may have had a close shave, those stepping into the sprawling main lounge in the international section had much to complain about.

With on an average two to three flights operating daily from the terminal, there are no takers for putting up kiosks in the sprawling main lounge on the ground floor.

“No one wants to do business here…no one wants to put up food stalls as there are only two or maximum three flights per day,” an on-duty employee told IANS.

According to security personnel, passengers regularly ask for eating and drinking facilities.

“We tell them to go upstairs where refreshments are available,” one of them added.

While looking out for a bite, it is easy to spot water marks on the carpeted floor.

“There is a problem of water dripping from the pipes above,” said an attendant.

Moreover as one eases onto the cushy seats, a plus, one has a clear view of the rubble -a result of construction activities-through the gigantic glass walls.

“It’s because of construction, but its an eyesore,” a cleaner told IANS.

Airport director B.P. Sharma admitted to the problems, but said maintenance and cleaning work was being improved by deploying sophisticated machines.

“The problem of water marks is there on the lounge floor as also the aerobridges. Some passengers litter the floors by spilling cold drinks and water. They also randomly throw paper cups. Cleaning is a regular process. And now 70 percent of those water marks have been cleaned,” Sharma told IANS.

However, he denied that all the beverage kiosks at the lounge are vacant.

About water seepage, the official said the new terminal has an 8-km long fire fighting pipe. “At one or two phases seepage may be an issue. I don’t know definitely. But the new terminal is in a transition period. We have 24×7 maintenance staff. Things are improving.”

With regard to the rubble, he said: “We have gone by the recommendations of international consultants, who said the passengers should be able to watch from the lounges how flight operations take place. From the glass glass walls one can have a clear view of the airport side.”

“Moreover, onstruction activity is a continuous process at any airport,” Sharma added.

(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at [email protected])

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