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House panel indicts Murthy for faulty airport design

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The Joint House Committee (JHC) probing the construction of the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) has indicted Infosys chief mentor N R Narayana Murthy, MP Rajeev Chandrashekar, bureaucrats V P Baligar, K Jairaj and other officials for "faulty" design and construction.

It has recommended "appropriate action" against officers responsible for the present state of affairs at BIA. The report, submitted to the government by committee chairman D Hemachandra Sagar, was tabled in the legislature on Monday. It says decisions at each stage -- from project approval to construction of BIA -- did not lead to the construction of an airport of international standards.

For the full report in the TOI, click here

The few times I have flown in and out of BIAL, including on international flights, my experience has been far better than with the old HAL airport. The overall feel, I may add, is even better than at many of the major international airports. It certainly has a swank look, with the land-scaping, particularly what you see as you approach the terminal sitting in a VOLVO bus, being quite out-standing.

As such, what I find most jarring about the report are the comments:
a) Describing the terminal building as an "industrial shed", the committee has expressed serious concern over the absence of a structure depicting the culture and glory of Karnataka.
b) It has also recommended blacklisting of infrastructure majors L&T, Siemens and Unique Zurich Airport for at least five years for "poor quality of workmanship" at BIA.

Did the Committee members want the terminal to look like the Shantinagar TTMC of the BMTC, of which they are perhaps very proud? Well, they may be; but, I don't think many citizens are! And, as for "quality of workmanship", I don't think there's any scope for complaint whatsoever, particularly not from the likes who are responsible for the totally shoddy and ugly TTMC's and PWD structures sprouting all across the city.

While there probably are merits to the criticisms regarding land acquisition, capacity, costs, monopoly status, lack of transparency in the awarding of contracts and conflict of interests thereof, etc, the roles of the many politicians involved at the various stages are what need to be critically examined. Trying to palm off the blames on the likes of Mr N R Narayana Murthy will certainly not wash, recognising as the public clearly does the integrity and capacity of these industry giants. Not just that, but whatever little credibility Mr Hemachandra Sagar and his lot had, now stands totally eroded with this report.

Muralidhar Rao

Comments

murali772's picture

I was not party to decisions: Rajeev

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Rajya Sabha MP and ABIDe chairman — whose name along with IT czar NR Narayanamurthy figures in the list of officers and experts against whom the Joint House Committee (JHC) has recommended ‘appropriate action’ — has clarified that he was not party to any of the decisions taken after he had resigned as director of the BIAL. “I was the founder director of BIAL and am proud to have played a role in formulating and bringing to reality the concept of a private public partnership Airport (the first in the country) for Bangalore,” he said in a statement.

Rajeev Chandrashekhar says he resigned as director of BIAL in March 2002, before the current consortium of Zurich Airport, Siemens and L&T was awarded the concession and licence for the project.

“I was not party to any of the decisions taken subsequently by the board and the government on the design, the contracts or any other issue relating to the airport.’’ ‘‘ I have been a strong critic of the way this airport was developed, the monopoly status given to it and the shutdown of the HAL airport and the obvious conflicts of interest between the shareholders Siemens, L&T and the award of the largest contracts in the project to themselves,” he added.

Hitting out against the BIAL management he said that there are many aspects of the conduct of these shareholders particularly in the context of potentially-inflated contracts given to themselves that deserve to be investigated and clarified.

“I have repeatedly asked that the project cost and the capital expenditure of this project to be disclosed in public interest which has not happened till date,” he added.

Agreeing with the JHC, he said that BIAL was the worst example of a PPP, of non-transparency of the highest order and of the private side of the PPP benefiting disproportionately compared to the public side. PPP is supposed to imply an equitable arrangement between the public and private investors. Unfortunately, the BIAL project doesn’t meet that criterion.

For the full report in the New Indian Express, click here.

Muralidhar Rao
srinidhi's picture

Where were they..

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 ..when Praful Patel was reviewing the airport?

..when Praful Patel discarded the plan of 'local flair' in rangoli facade..saying its 'not international'

..where were they when there were comments of industrial shed design was brought up years ago!

and so on..

There has been a big lacunae on the part of the govt. in not reviewing status/plans at regular intervals..even a small culvert's design by the PWD is reviewed by the chief secretary's office and why did they leave an airport without reviewing? Lets not use the excuse of not having expertise to review..if we dont then involve independent reviewers..

Govt should also take responsibility of these issue about BIA and better implement PPP projects in the future.. 

kbsyed61's picture

HAL Closure and 150 KM exclusivity!

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Murali,

Once bitten, twice shy, I would like to go through the official copy of the House committee report first before commenting on it.

It seems the indicted persons have washed of their hands with their failure to confront the issues including Closure of HAL airport and 150 km exclusivity.

Let us confront the issues with facts available from official Documents. Here is the link for those documents.

http://www.praja.in/en/~bangalore/blog/rithesh/2009/01/14/bial-rti-bial-development-overview-and-steering-committee-meeting

If you read this document it would be very clear that:

  1. HAL Closure - Initially proposed for limited operation restricting to 52 seater flight traffic, but by September 1999 decided to completely closed for commercial operation and same was approved in-principle by MoCA.
  2. CA was drafted with clause for 150 Km exclusivity in September 2002 and approved in-principle by MoCA.
  3. Mr. Naryan Murthy was allowed to lead the BIAL, which was incorporated in early 2001.

The question is people X and Y who are appointed to the BIAL post these decisions can now distance from the committee allegations on these very issues? Are we to believe that they were not aware of these decisions until Late 2007 until TOI ran the pro-HAL campaign?

 

kbsyed61's picture

The report is alraedy trashed by its own members!

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The report is already trashed by its own members.

See the http://www.deccanherald.com/content/42811/house-panel-report-bial-trashed.html

Photoyogi's picture

What do you say to the timing of this report?

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" Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) -- GVK Power & Infrastructure Ltd., an Indian builder of airports and power plants, is evaluating an option to purchase the 40 percent stake owned by Siemens AG in Bangalore International Airport Ltd. GVK’s shares rose. “There are a number of issues that need to be resolved before we can buy the stake,” A. Issac George, chief financial officer of Hyderabad-based GVK Power, said by telephone today. “It is still preliminary.” A part of the stake is locked in till May 2011 and the remainder until May 2015, he said. GVK is seeking to increase its stake to expand its airport business after it purchased 17 percent of the Bangalore operations from a unit of Larsen & Toubro Ltd. this month, taking its holdings to 29 percent. The company partly owns Mumbai International Airport Pvt. in India’s financial hub. " Read the whole article here: http://www.bloomberg.com/... Your guesses are as good as mine

-- PhotoYogi

sirahattimohanrao's picture

Report on BIAL

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I FULLY ENDORSE THE COMMENTS OF SRI.MURALIDHAR RAO. 

 

IF U CANT FIND HAPPINESS ENROUTE , YOU WILL NEVER FIND AT THE END

blrpraj's picture

agree

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I agree with Murali's comments. Looks like these politicians have no other job. Identifying issues like poor quality of construction, incorrect bidding process, bad design not catering to stated requirements etc. is understandable but fooling the public with the other unneeded elements like "industrial shed", representation of "local culture" etc. is waste of everybody's time. Close to 98% of the flying population cares less about the above 2 points ("local culture" and "industrial shed") and cares more about -
 

1) Ease of getting to the airport complex via multiple modes of transport safely in a reasonable time.

2) Ease of getting to the terminal from the chosen mode of transport.

3) ease of checking in and going past security.

4) Ease of waiting and finally boarding the aircraft; of course step 3 and 4 not being in a claustrophobic environment.

Of course the above steps are not comprehensive but I guess the reader of this post gets the picture that I am trying to convey.

Even if all the elements of "local culture" were thrown in at the HAL airport it would have been a pathetic "cow shed". When will the politicians get that? I guess all this controversy will die down if the new airport was handed over to AAI. All this stems from AAI being out of the game of running an airport in Bangalore.

 

srkulhalli's picture

Were the airport costs also exaggerated ?

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Think the issue is also was the money efficiently spent. I believe the airport cost around 4000 crores. How does that compare with this Delhi terminal below ?

For those who wanted something bigger and better - was it a question of not enough money being put in or money not being put to good use ?

 

http://business.rediff.com/report/2009/dec/29/delhi-to-boast-of-worlds-2nd-largest-terminal-soon.htm

 

T3 would increase the capacity of IGIA to 60 million passengers annually, from 23 million after it starts commercial operation in July next year. The airport is expected to increase capacity to 100 million passengers by 2030 depending on traffic growth.

The terminal, built at a cost of Rs 8,996 crore (Rs 89.96 billion), has four boarding piers with 48 boarding gates and 78 aerobridges, which is the highest for a terminal of its size. Three aerobridges would cater exclusively to Airbus 380 aircraft.

T3 also has many firsts to its credit. It would have 89 travelators, eight of which would be inclined - a first-of-its-kind in India [ Images ]. The 118-metre travelator would be the longest in Asia. The terminal would also have 63 elevators and 31 escalators.

Suhas



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