Sunday, June 10, 2007

Airport Expansion: AAI studies tech aspects to reduce river's impact

CHENNAI: With the State Government demarcating a tract of land with the Adyar river flowing in the middle for expansion of airport, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials are studying various engineering techniques to minimise the impact of the water body in the project.

As the Adyar river could not be blocked out completely because it plays a vital role in minimising floods in the locality, it is learnt that the experts are looking at feasibility of connecting land on either side of the river using bridges or culverts, said sources.

The problem that bogs down the experts is how to connect the land on the west bank of the river with that of the current airport. This was because the airport authorities are proposing to build a runway along the west bank of the river, said Dinesh Kumar, airport director.“Since the Government has decided to sanction the land, the AAI has to work around the difficulties to accommodate as many facilities as possible.”The technical aspects of the project are handled by officials of the Authority in Delhi. And “they are looking at different possibilities, even building of bridges or culverts are not finalised because things are at the initial stages.

“A clear picture is likely to emerge in a month. We also need to know the final size of the land to ascertain the type of engineering and magnitude of facilities that can be executed for expansion,” Dinesh Kumar said.

Four years ago, the AAI had rejected the same tract of land as non-feasible going by the criteria of the time, he said, “But now, the authority is working on ways to expand the airport using the land that will be allotted.”

Sources said that the scenario was unique because nowhere in the country an airport was built on land spread on either side of a water body. The engineers have to tackle flooding. Manapakkam, Kolapakkam and Kerugambakkam from where land would be acquired for the airport expansion are prone to floods, the official said.

Besides, the state government is also building two culverts on two points of the river, that would soon fall under the airport campus, to prevent floods during rains.

Meanwhile, civil engineering experts said that there was no precedent of building a structure to bear the weight of an aircraft.

If at all that was made possible, lot of care need to be taken because the land was notified as wetland.Dinesh Kumar said that final decision on would be taken after approval of AAI, head quarters and the ministry.


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