Sunday, April 12, 2009
There is a flurry of activity in Chennai airport's backyard across the Adyar river where work is on to extend the secondary runway. A pall of dust hangs in the air as hundreds of trucks dump soil and earth movers level the barren tract of land. All this is preliminary work in the laying of taxiways and the construction of an apron and other facilities.
The pall of dust is creating problems, not only for aircraft operations but also for residents in neighbouring Manapakkam, Tarapakkam and Porur who are trying to battle pollution. Although the impact of dust on aircraft and on the airport itself has not been studied yet, experts say that too much of dust near the runway is not a good thing because it affects visibility. Already, a combination of dust and high humidity has been creating early morning fog, bringing down visibility levels considerably. "Instances of low visibility at the airport have been increasing over the years, from less than 5 days in a year the 1970s to more than 20 days now.
The dust and pollution caused by the emergence of residential neighbourhoods is one of the reasons. Our staff assessing visibility has reported the sudden formation of fog in the hours before dawn," says an official of the airport meteorological department. "There is also a brick kiln that could be raising dust. We are planning to investigate," he adds. In the past few weeks, visibility has dipped dramatically from 4,000 metres, reducing to 40 metres on March 6.
Chennai airport does not have a Runway Visual Range (RVR) instrument, which makes matters worse. "Air-side vehicles coming close to the aircraft also cause trouble and can be considered one of the reasons for technical snags," says a directorate general of civil aviation official. However, TIFAC CORE (expansion??) director of Hindustan University N S Venkatraman says that dust is not a major irritant for aircraft although it affects visibility drastically.
Says retired pilot Captain A Ranganathan: "Dust normally causes minimal problems to aircraft. Dust settling on aircraft causes extra drag and leads to high fuel use." He adds that if the electronics bay is kept open for a long time during or after maintenance, it will cause electronics failure. "The Amsterdam crash happened after the radio altimeter failed, probably because of dust infiltration. But I have not seen such systems failing in India because of dust-related problems. Runways often have rubber and oil deposits. So, if dust settles on the runway, even a slight drizzle makes it slippery. Unless the airport removes rubber deposit frequently, safety will be compromised.
" An aircraft engineer says that maintenance should be time-bound and carried out for all aircraft. "There is a maintenance time frame for each part, including hydraulic systems and fluid checks. The deadlines must be kept." An Airports Authority of India official says that dust-control measures such as sprinkling of water is on. "We are bringing partially wet soil for laying the secondary runway so that not much of dust is kicked off," he said.
The Met department at the airport does not have access to pollution statistics produced and monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board. "If we have access to the data we can forecast dip in visibility," the official said. An International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) document says that non-airport related activities such as road vehicles accessing the airport and operating near roadways, air-side vehicles, as well as the geographical area are relevant to assessment under the national regulatory scheme.
Work on airport expansion chokes traffic
CHENNAI: A huge row of taxis on the left of the road that leads to the international arrival and departure terminals at the Chennai Airport, is choking traffic in the area.
With the domestic arrival now being shifted to the new international terminal, the movement of traffic at the airport seems to have shifted to one side of the airport. While the increase in passenger movement has resulted in frequent vehicle pile ups in the region, the row of taxis has only compounded the chaos. The domestic arrival was shifted to the international terminal because of expansion work that is taking place on the domestic side of the airport.
The airport closed the access roads outside the terminal to vehicular traffic, after a series of hoax bomb terror threats. As a result, vehicles coming to the airport are now re-routed through the first parking lane outside both terminals. Not only is that affecting the vehicular flow, it is also causing long traffic jams. However, there are no easy solutions, according to a senior official.
The traffic jams are “a minor inconvenience” that the passengers have to put up with for as long as work on the terminal expansion continues.
Monday, April 6, 2009
First Published : 01 Apr 2009 01:45:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 01 Apr 2009 08:39:11 AM IST
CHENNAI: The expansion and renovation plans for the main and secondary runway at Chennai airport, with appended link and taxiways that was to begin in the first week of April have been postponed due to approval delays by airport authorities in Delhi.
On March 16, The New Indian Express reported on the proposed expansion that would go on for four months.
The Airports Authority of India had decided to close the main runway and secondary runway alternatively, between April and July, owing to runway expansion work. The main runway 07/25, was to be closed to accommodate linkways and taxiways work that was to commence at the beginning of April.
Following this, airline operators in Chennai had reportedly made a representation at the central level stating that the project was not viable owing to huge penalties on their load factor and the new summer schedules that were planned in coordination with all agencies.
Following this, the project was postponed until further discussions with the AAI chairman.
Senior AAI officials in Chennai told The New Indian Express that work on the project would begin once the planning authorities in New Delhi gave the necessary approval. From then on a NOTAM-notice to airmen has to be served at least one week prior to the beginning of this expansion.
Operators suggest taking up extension of the secondary runway first to increase its length from 2,205m to 3,235m to facilitate take-off and landing without compromising on the load an aircraft can carry. The initial project plan had no timelines on expansion of the secondary runway.
First Published : 07 Apr 2009 02:34:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 07 Apr 2009 08:11:17 AM IST
CHENNAI: Unoin Minister T R Baalu better watch out.
Residents of Lakshmi Nagar, who have received notices for land acquisition, are readying broomsticks to be hung from doorways to welcome politicians visiting them to seek votes.
The not-so-affluent residents of Lakshmi Nagar near the airport had bought land in instalments with their hard earned money.
Most of them, Dalits from villages around Chennai, had been daily wage earners and had moved into the locality that now falls under the Sriperumbudur constituency to lead a better life.
But in December 2007, under 3(2) section of the Tamil Nadu Land Acquisition for Industrial Purpose Act, 1997, the government served notices to acquire their land for a parallel runway to the existing primary runway.
“We didn’t rob anybody. We worked hard day in and day out and bought this land. If they knew about this expansion plan, why did they give patta to our land? If anybody comes to ask for votes, our broomsticks will speak,” said a visibly agitated Nagamma. Seconding her, other women chorused,
“We are planning to hang broomsticks in front of our houses to welcome the
CHENNAI: The new settlers in Manapakkam, Kolapakkam, Geragambakkam and Tarapakkam in Sriperumbudur constituency are set to vote against the DMK. All are victims of the airport extension plan and they say their vote will go to the person who gives them a written assurance about denotification of their lands which were notified to be acquired for the parallel runway to be added to the existing primary runway. Under section 3(2) of the Tamil Nadu Land Acquisition for Industrial Purpose Act, 1997, the people were served notices that their land would be acquired. Under this expansion plan, 1069.99 acres of land were to be acquired for the parallel runway expansion. Because of this expansion, 947 dwelling houses, 20 small industries and one school will be levelled down.
“This is a draconian law. Under this act, the government does not need to give a specific time period, but can serve a notice and acquire the land when they choose to do it. But we, the people, are living in eternal anxiety of not knowing when our homes will be taken away from us,” said Brindha, a resident of this area and the leader of the resident’s movement to protect their lands under the banner ‘United People Forum for Survival’.
After the government started issuing notices from December 2007, the banks had stopped funding for the people who had taken home loans in this area and the houses remain incomplete. One such case is Macro Marvel, a new colony that came up behind the airport, and is full of retired people.
“We have invested all our life savings in this house. If the government demolishes our homes we do not know where to go. After the government served the notices, we have completely lost our peace. Many of us had developed sugar, BP. We are living in an eternal state of anxiety,” said Prema, wife of a retired army colonel.
In EVP Town, a new township, the construction was stopped after the government issued notification. Hundreds of people who had invested lakhs of rupees are at their wits end with the project coming to a standstill. So far 2500 people were served notices in this expansion plan.
“No feasibility report and no environmental clearances were taken. This parallel runway will come in between Poorur Lake and Adyar River and 2500 acres around this region are flood plains during the rainy season. This 15 km wall, to be constructed across the parallel runway, will cause havoc during the rainy season, causing floods in this region. Even in 2008 during the November-December rains, major flooding happened in this region,” said Brindha.
Kovur farmers object to relocation plan
The villagers of Kovur, a Mudaliyar dominated agricultural village, are set to vote against the DMK government, which plans to plunder their rightful agricultural lands.
Kovur, a quaint village in Sriperembudur that had for long run itself as an agricultural economy, is now getting a new identity as a dump yard for people displaced by the airport extension programme. This rehabilitation comes at a cost. To resettle the displaced, the government is acquiring 56 acres of agricultural lands under cultivation. There are 2000 people who are dependent on these lands for their livelihood.
Chidambaram, an agriculturist who owns 4 acres of land, which has been notified by the government to be acquired, said, “After the government notified the lands the banks have stopped giving agricultural loans. Sixty percent of the people have stopped cultivating the lands. We are buying rice from the shops. What kind of government is this, which takes away what rightfully belongs to the people? We are not going to give up this fight. These are the lands of our ancestors and nobody is going to take it away from us.”
These villagers were served notice in December 2007 and many had stopped cultivating because of a lack of funds from the banks. The lands are lying fallow in spite of there being plenty of water for irrigation. Ganasekaran another villager said, “ the government is creating an artificial famine in our place by creating a situation where we are forced not to cultivate.”