Surbhi Kapila and Priyankar Bhargava
July - September 2017
A Flourishing New Facility
The new airport at Kishangarh, a city in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan has been thoughtfully planned to cater to the needs of the passengers and its neighbouring areas. Having adopted smart green initiatives, fulfilling Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and contributing its bit to art and culture, the airport has set a benchmark for all upcoming facilities.
The Kishangarh airport will cater to a big mass of people who come to this city for its mega marble market. In fact, we are expecting good traffic as soon as we launch,” says Har Govind Meena, joint general manager, Ajmer airport project. Meena has been associated with the construction and development of the Kishangarh airport since it was in its nascent stage, and is currently monitoring the last leg of construction before the airport is made operational in August.
The journey from the planning stage to finally opening up has been a long one. It was in 2013 that the then Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh laid the foundation for the Kishangarh airport. But before the project could begin, the authorities had to struggle with resettling the local inhabitants in order to acquire the required land. Earlier they had 677 acre in possession, which was then expanded to be the present 746 acre.
About 100 km from Rajasthan’s capital Jaipur, the airport will cater not just to Kishangarh but also Ajmer and Pushkar, the nearby cities that see a massive footfall of tourists who visit the Ajmer Sharif Dargah and the annual Pushkar fair. It will also be the only airport catering to the nearby Beawar city. With a capacity of handling 75 passengers per aircraft movement, the airport has a low passenger capacity for now, but is nonetheless ready to manage the non-scheduled flights during the busy days of Pushkar fair.
The apron capacity of two aircrafts at a time and a single runway at the airport is sufficient for the current needs of the airport and a requirement for another runway is not being foreseen in the near future by the authorities who say that it may only arise with a two-fold increase in the passenger movement, which is a long way from now. Although if need be, a two km extension path for the runway has been charted out in the planning of the airport.
The first phase of planning or the master plan for the Kishangarh airport, amongst other details, includes some unique security measures.
For the first time, the security of an airport in India is in the hands of a battalion dominated by women. The 42 women of Hadi Rani Battalion will have only eight men as part of their team, all of whom have been trained for anti-sabotage checks and antihijacking besides being given general security training as per industry norms.
Having learnt from the loopholes that exist in the mechanics of airports across the country and in order to avoid repetition of those, the first phase of planning for the Kishangarh airport has been carefully designed. Besides all other infrastructural measures that have been taken for smooth functioning of the facility, it has also been ensured that the airport functions in eco-friendly ways.
At the time of designing the terminal building, the concept of geothermal energy was incorporated. Since the airport uses bore water for many of its daily functions, a pipeline system has been inlaid to take advantage of the temperature of the underground water to cool off or heat the inside of the terminal building. Geothermal energy is simply power derived from the earth’s internal heat and is used to generate electricity or to heat and cool buildings directly.
Apart from this, Pankaj Agarwal, senior manager at the airport tells AIBM, “We are also developing a green belt. About 30,000 trees will be planted in and around the airport, and other than the geothermal plant, we also have a rainwater harvesting system in place.” He adds, “Steps will be taken to ensure the ground water level is maintained and this will also help neighbouring villages. The water is saline here. So when it will be mixed with rain water the quality of water is bound to improve.”
The water at the airport will also be recycled through a Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP). Developed by the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, the plant uses a soil based technology, is eco-friendly and uses no chemicals. The water will also be used in flushing toilets, washing vehicles, and watering plants. Keeping in mind the scarcity of water that is there in Rajasthan, the entire mechanism has been adapted to save water and ensure minimum wastage.
Apart from incorporating sustainable measures, the management at the airport, in collaboration with Kishangarh marble association, are coming up with a theme park that will inform people about all eco-friendly steps that have been incorporated in the construction of this airport and how they can be used in the construction of buildings in the future.
Other than these major projects that have taken shape at the new facility, smaller ones like solid waste management have been incorporated as well. As is the norm at most airports, a twin dustbin system has been adapted, segregating biodegradable and non biodegradable waste. Furthermore, biodegradable waste will be used to generate vermicompost, while all metal and plastic waste will be going outside for recycling.
Furthering the energy efficiency of the airport, they will use Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lights as a measure to save energy besides the 300-400 MW solar power plant. “We aim to generate enough solar power to send it to the neighbouring villages as well,” Agarwal informs.
Art at the Airport
“The facility has been completely painted in white so that all the artworks stand out and get due attention,” Agarwal explains. Artworks at Kishangarh airport have been inspired from the place’s culture and history. The Ganga-Jamna Tehzeeb, a term used for the confluence of Hindu and Muslim cultures, has been portrayed in the various artworks displayed at the airport.
Colourful, digital paintings hang on the walls of the airport’s departure and arrival terminals, vividly depicting the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, the Brahma temple in Pushkar and the Phool Mahal Palace in Kishangarh.
“The artwork at the airport, besides adding to the aesthetics, is an attempt to ignite the curiosity of the tourists who might look at these various monuments in the paintings and be tempted to visit them,” says Kapoor.
Lending a Hand: CSR
Under the Airports Authority of India’s CSR, the management at Kishangarh airport has been travelling to villages that are in the range of 80 km of the airport and initiating socially progressive acts. They successfully constructed a toilet in a government school’s compound, they also established government schools in remote areas, treated the highly saline water in the existing schools, and besides painted school walls in order to motivate students and improve their attendance.
An initiative of the Airports Authority of India, the Kishangarh airport is not yet under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) but is nonetheless connecting some far flung areas of Rajasthan to major Indian cities.