A humongous, under-construction, skeletal steel structure greets passengers when they arrive at the Delhi airport. The structure is the much hyped and much awaited domestic terminal (1D) that was supposed to be ready by June, this year. The project will need another few more months to be ready.
As with most of its projects, the private airport operator Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) had last year promised that the terminal 1D would be ready by June 2008. As things stand now, the new terminal would not be operational before October, senior DIAL officials said.
The existing departure terminal (1B) was constructed during the Second World War. It can handle up to three million passengers per year but sees traffic of over eight million people. Though DIAL has made extensions in the building, it is still bursting at the seams.
DIAL had started work on it in August last year. It had claimed that the terminal, which would be able to handle 10 million passengers along with terminal 1A (which handles Air India’s domestic flights), would be ready by the middle of 2008. Till now, only the basic metal framework for the Rs 450 crore building has come up.
Like the delay in constructing the airport’s new runway, DIAL has once again taken umbrage under the Operation, Maintenance and Development Agreement (OMDA) that it had signed with the Airports Authority of India. “This terminal was not part of the OMDA, but we decided to construct it because 1B was unable to handle the growing passenger traffic,” said a DIAL spokesman.
The reason for the delay, however, is different. “We had to demolish some existing structures in the cargo complex and some government offices. Foundation of the new building could only be laid after these were razed but the permissions took a long time to come,” said a senior DIAL official.
“This is the first time we are constructing a terminal from scratch and not renovating one. We don’t want to make any mistakes. We would rather delay its opening by three months than make an inadequate terminal,” he said.