The greenfield international airport in Mopa is months away from being operational but is ready and waiting for a date from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for it to be inaugurated.
“People should not mix the date of the inauguration and the date when the airport will be operational. The difference between the two is huge, and as of today, the airport will need at least three months before it is certified to be operational,” a senior engineer at the airport told Gomantak Times Digital on the condition of anonymity.
“As of today, only the Air Traffic Control (ATC) is fully operational. One runaway is ready and all other parameters needed for an airport are in various stages of completion. Optimistically, we would need a minimum of three months for the airport to be operational,” stated our source.
Designated as a greenfield airport because it has been constructed on greenfield land, a British English term to denote land that has not been developed previously, Mopa airport has seen an emphasis on landscaping.
“Landscaping is a big component of the airport, and we have still many loose ends to tie up in this area. Works are going ahead without any hindrance and that forms the basis of our optimism,” stated the engineer, unperturbed by the rubble that can be seen strewn around.
“The aerobridges (passenger boarding bridges) are ready and functional, but the terminal building is not ready. The fire station, the building to house the CISF and the police station is not ready. The parking area and internal roads at the airport have yet to be completed,” added another engineer involved in the construction of the airport.
“Construction of an airport mandates the need to keep safety parameters first. Strict safety parameters need to be complied with before the operational certificate is issued. Setting a deadline for airports is not the same as one sets a deadline for other works,” said the engineer, trying to explain that no realistic deadline could be set as to when an airport can be declared operational.
“We need to have a service centre for planes, and it is not ready. The internal fire systems are not fully functional. They first need to be set in place and then tested,” said the engineer, trying to quantify the work yet to be completed. “At the moment, only the fire brigades are there,” he added.
“The drainage of the airport is not ready. Getting the drainage is an exercise in itself. We have to keep the terrain of the place in mind when designing the drainage, internally and externally,” said the engineer.
“There are areas being built, dedicated to catering, which are yet to be completed. Work has started in all segments but is not near completion to say that the airport could be operational in December,” briefed the engineer.
“The fuel stations are not ready. We need to have huge fuel stations that will cater to the fuel needs of the planes and vehicles that will be providing service to other ancillaries,” stated the engineer.
“As you can see, huge trailers are coming in with prefabricated construction material from different parts of the country. Occasional delays in the arrival of material are added to the time schedule according to which everyone is working out here,” quipped the engineer.
“Planes have started landing almost every day. The airport is functional as far as the landing and takeoff of planes are concerned. But, getting the airport operational for passengers is different,” summed up the engineer.