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Rs.1600 crore paper board plant of TNPL GNS - 100: our first subscriber Colour-Chem’s colourful KRVS An inexplicable neglect Cleaning Ganga – relocate tanneries and install electric crematoria Revving up the manufacturing sector L&T: focus on infrastructure and more infrastructure… Kudos to NDTV... Where a state respects its litterateurs… Should we change the official year? Where is Rajaji? A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… Poor quality of university VCs Align crops to agro climate endowments… Increasing non co-operation of state leaders When Ratan Tata visited SRM Waning interest in public discussions… Gas is the way forward Maximising the micro pricing … New IT products of Ramco in the pipeline… A welcome initiative by the judiciary The balancing act S V Raju – a ‘good’ true liberal London, London Narayan PPP mode for upgrading Corporation Hospitals Whistle-Stop Tour of Raghuram Rajan Engineering seats go abegging No Maha Koottani in TN... The star of Spencers is no more Pharma – overdose of copying Gay abandon in pricing Fuel for thought F C Kohli - his concerns all embracing More tributes to GR Build close rapport with business leaders Paytm karo... Odisha: spectacular win by Naveen Patnaik How Air-India loses customs... Welcome GST Shaming of Tamils by Tamil farmers at Delhi Preserving for the future IPL - no surprise this scam Diamond jubilee of Egmore Samskrt School Measuring roof tops in terms of KW/MW Demise of a media baron... Rahman at CIC Robber barons everywhere L&T- the specialty of special purpose vehicles Kulandai was a giant The Jan Dhan bonanza Polls and promises The nuclear option Editor's Notes Naidu will soon build a new Hyderabad A friendly business group Infrastructure funding – lessons learnt He saved millions from starvation... Auto components surge… Plummeting profits of PSBs Quality education through the PPP mode Protest masters... IAS invades NDDB... 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S Ramanathan – a versatile musician, musicologist Tough task taking states together Put expensive assets created to use... TN accounts for the largest recruits by the IT sector Kinetic Karnataka Nuclear power at the nucleus SoA @ 80 Parliament in paralysis... Telangana in top gear… Cement prices continue to rise… MHC should not return to its old indisciplined ways Airlines in India: cost and space PC’s preference for professionals Sweet news for TN sugar mills Readers' Mail Reliance’s TV – 18 ready to launch Tamil News Channel Naidu’s return augurs well for Seemandhra Permanent secretariat for TN GIM More heat than light Bihar elections - the Rajaji formula worked An informal presentation - analytical, forward locking... More Shakthi to Das’ elbow Convulsions in The Hindu Focus on quality of power - its only around 170-180V Tribute – M V Murugappan Remembering Indira Sivasailam... IPL type auction for VCs? 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Chennai and Kolkata miss opportunity to grow as Delhi and Mumbai

The non-cooperative relationship with the Centre has been denying Tamil Nadu opportunities to develop on par with Delhi and Mumbai. In 1998, IE presented R Rajagopalan, the then Chairman and Managing Director of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd, as the chief guest at the IE Business Excellence Award function. In a brilliant address, Rajagopalan described the spectacular growth recorded by the Delhi and Mumbai Metro telephones in terms of growth in number of lines, revenues and modernisation. 

MTNL was conceived to get the telephone systems in the four metros out of the mammoth Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) which was engaged with the telecom development of the country as a whole. Chennai and Kolkata, with strong leftist inclinations, did not bother to demand that their metros also be part of MTNL. This meant that the bulk of the profits generated by the Chennai Telephones was utilised by BSNL for telecom development across the country. 

In contrast, MTNL utilised the entire huge revenues and profits generated on the development of telecom in the two metros. The result was obvious: in terms of modernisation, installation of state-of-the-art systems and equipment and laying of cables and towers… Delhi and Mumbai recorded growth many times those of Chennai and Kolkata. But the political leadership just did not bother. 

There is a similar unconcern in the development of the Chennai airport.

Under the UPA-1, Praful Patel planned massive modernisation and expansion of the international airports at the metros. After the initial success in building private airports at Bengaluru and Hyderabad, Delhi and Mumbai airports were privatised. This brought in  humungous investments of over Rs. 10,000 crore each; these were set up in quick time and today compare well with some of the large international airports in terms of capacity, ambiance and facilities. 

Chennai and Kolkata preferred, as usual, to be content with remaining in the public sector IAAI. One just has to have a look at these airports and compare them with the other two airports to see the difference. For the Chennai airport, IAAI had to depend on the defence ministry and the Tamil Nadu government for acquisition of sizeable areas of land. And these were not forthcoming as per schedule. The state gave up acquisition on protest from the affected property owners. The decision to add new facilities for domestic passengers at the northern end and, for international passengers, at the southern end, leaving the existing old buildings intact, proved a handicap. Lack of resources due to escalation forced them to dispense with multi level car parking. Aligning the metro rail system was not factored in early and properly. A huge bridge was built over the Adyar River to extend the second runway running east to west that would facilitate handling larger aircrafts. But this proved a disaster by arresting the flow of the Adyar river, the impact of which was felt grievously during the December 2015 floods. 

In Delhi too, cost escalated. But GMR, the new owner, assisted the prime contractor L&T with the needed clearances and resources in time that helped open the airport in time for the Commonwealth Games. The lack of such cooperation with the prime contractor Consolidated Construction Consortium (CCC) resulted in delays to complete the construction, with serious design deficiencies in erecting conveyor belts, inadequate bonding of the huge glass modules to withstand vibrations of landing and giving up on the walkalator. CCC failed again in the construction of Chennai metro stations and is on the point of bankruptcy. 

In this background, the recent news on expanding the facilities at the airport by reconstructing the old airport sandwiched between the new domestic and international terminals is welcome. I hope the Tamil Nadu government led by Jayalalithaa would render needed assistance and help Chennai evolve as a prestigious airport of international excellence capable of handling 25 million passengers a year. 


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