After a spate of accidents recently at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, top officials of the civil aviation ministry have now admitted that vehicular traffic inside the airport is as dangerous as the Blueline menace on the Capital’s roads.
The terrain on the airside, it seems, is also as treacherous as some of the worst potholed roads in the city.
The reason, airport sources say, is the ongoing construction and renovation work by airport operator Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL). “The situation on the airside is almost as bad as the terminals, where renovation work is going on,” said a senior official with a full-cost carrier.
“Due to DIAL’s construction work, a lot of barricades and diversions have come up at the airside. As a result, vehicles running inside the airport have to take time-consuming detours and sometimes taking sharp turns that may have resulted in accidents,” he said. “Drivers have to keep their eyes on both sides while driving,” he added.
What is even more alarming is construction and digging work right next to aircraft parked at bays. “At many places they haven’t put up proper barricades and digging work goes on right beneath the nose of the aircraft. This is very dangerous as any small damage to the aircraft body can ground it for days,” he said.
“Ideally, planes should be shifted and the parking bay cleared before undertaking such work. When you are doing such work at an operational airport, there should be safeguards,” said an official of a budget carrier.
DIAL, however, denies that it is undertaking any digging or other construction work near the aircraft. “There is some work going on to build a new departure terminal and some part of it extends to the airside too. However, we have put up barricades and it is not near aircraft or parking bays at all,” a DIAL spokesman said. “There is no chance of any damage to aircraft and the complaints are wrong,” he added.
Despite DIAL’s claims, some pictures with the Hindustan Times sent by an alert reader, prove that digging work was indeed going right under the nose of aircraft. DIAL, however, maintains that there was no such work going on and there were no diversions in the airside either.