Over a year ago, the Biju Patnaik Airport in Bhubaneswar was accorded the international status followed by celebrations and chest thumping by the Airport authorities as well as the state government. Director Sharad Kumar, who believes in bringing more transparency and authority to the system, has been unable to come true to words for unknown reasons. And, the Biju Patnaik International Airport is still waiting for the international flight operations to commence.
Utter mismanagement by the airport authorities and poor handling of the situation have been the root cause why foreign as well as domestic carriers are reluctant to run international flights from Bhubaneswar. Despite being a special tourist destination, the state is losing crores of rupees every year, thanks to callous authorities at the Bhuubaneswar Airport, who hardly bother about it. They mean their salary and hefty bonuses, which they are getting without any big efforts.
A recent query by Rajya Sabha member Kalpataru Das, has revealed that bureaucratic hurdles and lack of interest of the Aviation Ministry in starting international flights from Bhubaneswar, have been the prime reasons why Odisha has been kept waiting for long. Many airliners have shown their interest, but when they understand the reality on ground, they just stay away. They definitely prefer other sectors rather than a poor, underprivileged and chaotic one.
When we talk chaotic, it reminds us about the mad rush and long queues at the exit point of the Bhubaneswar Airport. The authorities have imposed a Rs 40 parking fee for the vehicles that stay inside the premises beyond five minutes. However, they don’t have a system to clear the vehicles fast. As a result, most people are robbed off their money without any fault. Although the airport authorities are to be blamed for the mess and long queues at the exit point, commuters are charged for the delay. Unfair, but there is nobody to protest. They don’t listen to you and threaten to call the CISF if you keep arguing and cause any delay.
If the situation continues like this, the day is not far when the Biju Patnaik Airport will become the first in the country to lose the international status without a single global flight operation. Neither people of Odisha nor the Centre would like to witness this disaster. But, they need to step in to put the erring officials in their right place and take adequate steps to improve the efficiency of the Airport on a priority basis.