Jan 3, 2009
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As we are in first week of new year, a kind of euphoria and despair among all those who have been anxiously looking forward to the commissioning new Integrated Terminal Building of Mangalore Airport. 70% of the civil work at the terminal is complete and the authorities are waiting for the systems and vital components to arrive from different continents and countries so that they can be fitted into their respective places to commission the project by the stipulated date March 15, 2009.
The despair stems from the fact that the dynamic director of the Mangalore Airport M R Vasudeva has been promoted and transferred at a time when his continuance as the Airport Director is crucial for the very commissioning of the integrated terminal building. A change of guard at the helm at a critical juncture like this is like a death blow to all those who are aware of the involvement of Vasudeva in the transformation of this just functional airport into that of handling the arrival and departure of international flights. Credit certainly goes to this easily accessible, workaholic, dynamic man at the top, under whose stewardship developmental activities at the airport received a new momentum.
His promotion transfer to Coimbotore is detrimental to the commissioning of the new terminal building when it is almost on the verge of completion. Though the terminal building might be completed by the stipulated time there is definitely going to be an inordinate delay in commissioning it with a new man at the top. Mr Vasudeva has evinced personal interest to ensure timely completion of the project and infusing his staff with a new force and vigor. Though the new of his promotion transfer was known a few months back he was asked to continue till the project is completed. However, uncertainty is the order of the day and it is believed that he might be transferred any time, probably by the end of this month.
Realizing the significance of his continuing in Mangalore to ensure the completion of the project well begun by him, the Karnataka NRI Forum Dubai has urged Union Minister Sri Oscar Fernandes to do the needful in the matter. The only hitch is that Mangalore Airport needs to be upgraded to facilitate his promotion in Mangalore. By not resuming his new promotional posting Mr Vasudeva has denied himself the financial benefits that come along with the promotion.
Rajesh Sequeira , Co-ordinator of the NRI Forum who has closely monitored the goings on at the Mangalore Airport says “The new integrated terminal building is a baby of Mr Vasudeva who was intently involved in the project from the beginning. His departure at this crucial stage would hamper the progress of the new terminal. But we do not want him to forego the financial benefits for our sake. The problem can be settled by allowing him to accept his promotion at Coimbotore and send him on deputation to Mangalore to oversee the completion of the project”.
Rajesh has also impressed upon the Minister to declare Mangalore Airport as an International Airport. “Tirupathi, which hardly boasts of any facilities that Mangalore Airport has, has been declared as an international airport just a few months back. There is no reason why Mangalore should not be given that status immediately”, he points out.
It can be said that developmental activities at Mangalore Airport gained momentum after Mr Vasudeva assumed charge as Director in 2004. His first and major contribution was completion of the 2.9 km runway for the new terminal which led to the handling of international flights, thus fulfilling the long-awaited dream of NRI’s. The terminal built at a cost of 147 crores has competed 70% of the civil and electrical and work. Mangalore Airport has been in the news recently for reporting highest growth in South India and it is expected that commissioning of the new terminal building and according International Airport status will further accelerate this growth.
The work on the approach roads both entry and exit to the new terminal is going on in a war footing. Work on the 900 meter entry road from Deccan Park area has just begun while the work on the 1100 meter exit road adjacent to Sri Devi College is moving on at rapid strides. The road is elevated to about 6 meters and Karnataka Government has agreed to provide the road in a fit and functional condition. “The gradient level of the entry road is about 8 to 10 percent and we have requested the government to try to make it 10 to 12 percent”, says Vasudeva. When asked whether the road will be ready by the time the terminal is ready for commissioning Mr Vasudeva said “both of us are racing against time”.
The work on the 600metre long parallel taxiway is also going on briskly. Mr Vasudeva has taken the people into confidence and successfully convinced the villagers to handover 56.46 acres of land required for the parallel taxiway. “People have willingly come forward and given the land. Though officially the land is not handed over to the government the process will be completed in due course”, Vasudeva added.
Parallel Taxiway is necessitated so that the runway is vacated to make way for the operations of other aircrafts easier. If there is only one taxiway the aircraft has to be vacated from the runway to make way for the other. This is possible only when there is a parallel taxiway.
Though recession has affected the aviation industry in general Mangalore Airport has witnessed a slight reduction only in domestic flights especially between Mangalore-Bangalore. M R Vasudeva says “The situation will come to normalcy within a few months. The new terminal will give necessary impetus to traffic movement both domestic and international”.
The ever enthusiastic Vasudeva brushes aside all the controversies surrounding his transfer. “I term it as a divine gift if I happen to be here for commissioning the project. If I am transferred I consider it as god’s will. But I am happy to be involved to see the project completed”, he declares.
Vasudeva has been instrumental in taking the work force into confidence by instilling a sense of dynamism in getting the work done at the terminal building on a war footing. With his background in Air Terminal Control (ATC), he is in a better position to understand the entire functioning of the airport, which has given him the necessary edge. No one can hoodwink him by false claims or offer excuses on technical grounds. A new man in his place will take his own sweet time to get acquainted with the project and oversea its implementation. That would entail unnecessary delay in the commissioning of the project.
Let us hope the commissioning of the much awaited new Integrated Terminal Building will succeed in providing international airport status to Mangalore Airport.
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