Upgrade KIA or face eco-challenges building new one?

Upgrade KIA or face eco-challenges building new one?

A general view of KIA. Credit: DH

For the last 12 years, Bengaluru has had only one commercial airport. It is now the country’s third busiest. But going forward, will the city of 1.3 crore people benefit from another airport? Will it decongest the city? DH takes a deep dive to understand what the public feel, interacting with a cross-section of Bengalureans.

Kiran Jeevan, a professor at the St Joseph’s College has this to say: “A second airport sounds like a great idea. It will surely help economic growth, provide job opportunities and help air connectivity. This airport will also help many people from neighbouring districts to get easy access.”

However, he cautions about the challenges too. “There are critical issues to be addressed such as land acquisition and environmental factors. These need to be addressed in a sensitive manner without affecting the livelihoods of people and the biodiversity,” he adds.

The Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) have proposed that the new airport could be along the Bengaluru-Mysuru corridor, somewhere near Bidadi and Ramanagara.

Dr N Shyam Mohan, a resident of Thanisandra Road, has a different opinion on this. He says, “The location of the current airport may not be easily accessible for all. Besides, I don’t feel that having a second airport along Mysuru Road will help resolve the issue.”

The location, he says, will still pose a difficulty for some residents who live far away from both the Kempegowda International Airport and Mysuru Road. His alternative: “In my opinion, a better option would be to revive the old HAL Airport if it is possible to do so. This can also sort out land acquisition and cost issues.”

Lack of adequate transportation facilities to the existing airport has been an issue with many passengers. Rachitha M D a teacher staying in T Dasarahalli, elaborates, “I stay in the Northern part of Bengaluru, where travel options are many. But the rollercoaster ride starts when you want to commute to the airport.”

She has to cover 37 kms to reach the airport from her house. Unavailability of public transport options such as buses during odd hours, and the risks of travelling as a single woman in a cab make it even tougher. A new airport, she hopes, might fix these problems not only for her but for all frequent flyers.

For Christeena Baby, who stays in MSR Nagar, the prospect of another airport for Bengaluru is not very inviting. It is not necessary, she says, as Bengaluru already has one. “Instead of building a new airport, it is better to improve the facilities at the existing one.”

Obviously, she opines, there is a need for development in the country. “But at the same time, such projects are not suitable for our environment. The government should think wise and act according to the need of the hour. I feel instead of a new airport taking up a lot of space, the existing one can be upgraded.

Focus could be on maintenance and boosting connectivity through multiple modes.”