Vehicles parked in a haphazard manner outside the Dabolim airport. (Sudesh Bhosle)
PANAJI: Unhappy over the delay in construction of the proposed grade separators at the Dabolim airport, The Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar has asked the PWD chief engineer to hand over the task of building the grade separators to the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC).
In his letter dated February 6, 2013, to the PWD chief engineer, Mr J J S Rego, Mr Parrikar has asked the PWD department to hand over the work to GSIDC.
In his letter, the Chief Minister has mentioned that the new terminal building is scheduled for inauguration on June 30, 2013, and with its operation, the amount of traffic along the airport road will increase.
Officials at the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said that during peak hours, nearly 1,200 vehicles make entry and exit at the airport and in the absence of grade separators, the situation at the airport intersection would result in a traffic chaos.
Grade separators are basically constructed to decongest traffic at intersections. It is the process of aligning a junction of two or more transport axes at different heights (grades) so that they will not disrupt the traffic flow on other transit routes when they cross each other at intersections.
Mr Parrikar said that till date the PWD has only managed to prepare the estimate while no further progress has been made and that it is advisable to hand over the project to GSIDC. The Chief Minister has been actively pursuing the issue of constructing grade separators as a solution to traffic congestion at the intersection of the airport road and the NH 17B.
In the meanwhile, the Principal Secretary, Mr Rajnikant Verma on Friday held a joint meeting of the GSIDC, PWD, traffic police and the AAI to work out an interim relief to ease the traffic chaos before the new terminal building is put into operation, as the grade separators would not be ready within three months from now.
Mr Verma said that the project has been delayed mainly because of funds, as earlier efforts were made to obtain funds from the Minister of Road Surface and Transport. Now, the state government has decided that funding would be done by the GSIDC. Mr Verma further said that within one week, all stakeholders would report back to him for a review meeting and to decide on how best the traffic could be eased once the new terminal building is put into operation. He, however, ruled out that the Chief Minister is annoyed over the delay from the PWD side and added that the decision to hand over the work to GSIDC is mainly because of the corporation’s expertise and experience.
The PWD chief engineer, Mr J J S Rego said that the grade separator project is estimated at nearly Rs 75 crore. The idea to construct grade separators first came up about three years ago when the GSIDC plan of building a flyover to ease traffic at the airport had failed due to a technical snag. As the proposed flyover had a single entry provision and no exit provision, it was scrapped.
As per the earlier plan, two grade separators were proposed in the form of two loops at the airport for entry and exit. Traffic coming from Vasco and Panaji via Chicalim road was to climb the grade separator near the railway overbridge and directly enter the airport, while traffic coming from Dabolim and Margao sides was to proceed on the road below the grade separator. The second grade separator, according to the plan, would start from the airport building and end approximately 750 metres away, joining the NH 17B. This grade separator would be used by the outgoing traffic.