Five years, after the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone for the Tirupati Airport, mere 14 km from the main city, for the proposed domestic airport seems now all set to handle heavy local and foreign heavy traffic once inaugurated.
Tirupati, which is one of the three cities, shortlisted from Andra Pradesh, under the Narendra Modi government's '100 Smart Cities' mission. The city is likely to get a booster once the new airport gets functional the international status.
The airport, which initially had a single domestic terminal, has been expanded by about 400 acres of land to accommodate the heavy traffic rush. The commencement of international operations will make it easier for pilgrims from neighbouring countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka to travel here, which in turn is expected to contribute to Tirupati’s development into a major religious-cum-tourist hub.
Tirupati is one of the most popular pilgrim destinations in the country. The inception of the Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Tirupati has only boosted the scope for international travel and tourism, putting the city of God in the spotlight as a centre of business.
In a day, around 70,000 to 80,000 people visit Tirupati during normal occasions, and around 100,000 people during special occasions. The new building and modern facilities offer ample space for hassle-free passenger movement.
The terminal area of the airport is 22,000 sq m. "It can handle a capacity of 700 passengers (500 domestic + 200 international) at a time," says TS Chandramouli, Executive Director, Airports Authority of India (AAI).
"There is capacity to park about 350 cars.” It has 18 check-in counters and four conveyors - two for domestic, one for international arrival and one at departure. The terminal has two passenger boarding bridges, four escalators and five elevators. At present, 20 movements are taking place at the airport and all the flights are connected to Hyderabad.
The new terminal building has been equipped with modern amenities and the shape of the airport has been evolved and conceptualised resembling an eagle in flight, channelling Garuda, the carrier of Lord Vishnu.
The new terminal has a basement through which baggage is handled. Hence, the movement of tractor trolleys on the air side of the terminal is eliminated. The canopy on the city side is 12-m wide, which protects visitors and passengers from adverse weather conditions. The roof has a double-skin insulation, which prevents heat transfer from the outside to the interior.
It is a centrally air-conditioned building and energy-efficient electrical fittings such as LED fittings and lux-level sensors and timers for street lighting have been installed. Also, centrifugal chillers, which are the best energy-efficient chillers, and refrigerant of R134a, which is environment-friendly, have been used. Besides, energy-efficient motors have also been used.
"The building is a glazed structure that allows natural light during the day and thus, saves consumption of electricity," adds Chandramouli. This effectively reduces the load on air-conditioning and lighting during the day.
Besides the use of insulated system for the roof, sensor-controlled taps and flushing systems have been installed to control wastage of water. A sewage treatment plant (STP) has been installed to treat the sewage received from the building and the treated water is used for gardening and flushing.
Knowing that Tirupati expereinces extreme summer temperatures, grass track pavers have been used in the parking lot. Besides, a green area has been developed around the building to reduce the effect of heat.
According to G Prabaharan, General Manager - Engineering, AAI, "Energy-efficient light fittings, motors are used for the conservation of electricity. Also, a building management system (BMS) has been installed to sense and control the usage of electricity for lighting and air-conditioning. New and updated fittings have been installed for fire detection and sprinklers for fire fighting."
Time, cost and clearances
The project has been constructed in 26 months. The cost of construction with infrastructure is around Rs 174 crore.
The land for the new terminal was acquired by the state government and handed over to AAI for development. Environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest and the necessary consent from the State Pollution Control Board had been obtained for the construction.
The building is designed to be user-friendly. All the standard equipment as per the norms of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security of India (BCAS) has been installed to ensure the safety of passengers. A sufficient number of escalators and elevators have been built for easy movement and considering the convenience of senior citizens and the differently-abled.
An instrument landing system, air traffic control tower and fire station have been installed to ensure safe landing and movement of aircraft and smooth takeoff without discomfort to passengers. Fire service personnel on duty are deputed to meet any kind of emergencies.
On becoming operational, domestic flights will start operating from the new airport. As construction work has been completed, Tirupati Airport is not far from receiving its international status.