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The city's newest landmark, Mumbai airport's new terminal, T2, which will eventually cater to both domestic and international fliers under one roof , was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday.
It will open for passengers on February 12. Although airlines were initially asked to prepare to move into T2 by January 15, the terminal's opening date was revised by almost a month to make time for a final round of construction work.
The inauguration, however, was scheduled for Friday because a later date might have led to the violation of a Lok Sabha election code of conduct, which requires politicians to refrain from endorsing public projects before the polls.
In addition to the PM, an entourage of ministers from the state and Union cabinet were present at the inauguration ceremony.
"I believe today marks a very important occasion in the development of the civil aviation sector in our country. I am delighted to be a part of this function to inaugurate the state-of-the-art Terminal-2 of the CSIA (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport)," said Singh.
"This shows our ability to build world class infrastructure. The T2 is truly first class terminal," a visibly impressed Prime Minister said after inaugurating the opulent terminal which would become operational next month.
"It marks the beginning of a new chapter in the growth of civil aviation sector in the country," he said.
GVK Reddy, executive chairman with the Mumbai International Airport Limited, said, "The opening of Terminal 2 is one of the most important milestones in the history of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), as well as Mumbai.
Equipped with a dedicated express access road (the Sahar Elevated Road), a huge seating area outside, the world's biggest art museum and a stunning glass facade, among several other state-of-the-art facilities, T2 is likely to change the overall air travel experience in the city, said experts.
The ample use of daylight has also made T2 one of the most energy-efficient terminals in the country.
"It is the most magnificent building built since independence," said Praful Patel, union minister for heavy industries.
The four-storey glass marvel, whose design is inspired by a dancing peacock and built at a cost of a whopping Rs 9,800 crore, was dedicated to the nation by Singh.
The terminal, sprawling across an area of 4.39 lakh square metres, is home to thousands of artefacts and paintings that stretch along a 3km art wall, aptly named "Jaya He", an eulogy to the rich kaleidoscope of Indian culture.
"Jaya He" gives the visitors a peep into the country's diverse cultural heritage with rows of murals, statues and paintings behind a glass wall. Sparkling fountains and classy installations welcome them.
An attempt has also been made to capture Mumbai's life showcasing its large migrant population hoping to make a living in the city of their dreams.
Another artwork "Tincity", in which a collage of photography and corrugated metal sheets, which dot the city's landscape across numerous slum clusters, have been used, reflects the tenacity of the migrant community living in the bustling city's dark underbelly.
The dancing peacock-themed facility's peacock feather-styled roof leaves one awestruck with special dichroic lights that move with the changing direction of the sun reflecting an array of colours onto the check-in hall's floor.
The new terminal can accommodate 9,900 passengers and has 7 lakh sq ft of space for retail, lounges and other travel services.
There are 8 check-in islands, 60 emigration and 72 immigration counters, 52 boarding bridges, 162 lifts, escalators and travellators and landscaping has been done in two lakh sq ft. Besides, it has the largest multi-level covered car parking in the country with a capacity to accommodate 5,000 vehicles.
Shiny granite has been used is 1.85 lakh sq m, large enough to accommodate 25 football pitches.
(With PTI inputs)