Although Bagdogra Airport authorities have, no doubt, taken up measures to ease traffic snarls at the airport, a section of transporters is still creating jams on the first exit lane inside the airport premises due to lack of proper vigilance.
Also, outside the airport premises, a group of drivers of auto rickshaws and other vehicles have happily made empty spaces right in front of the main entrance their parking lot.
Though the section of transporters inside are willing to pay the parking fees to the agency concerned, those outside are evading the same, while all these two groups are looking for is good business.
It may be noted that airport authorities have built a parking lot and recently opened a separate exit point for vehicles with a view to easing the traffic congestion that had become the order of the day.
As the new initiative came into force, people like Amit Pal Singh thanked Airport Director Rakesh Sahay in their Facebook posts. “I was at the airport yesterday. There was no commotion at the parking ticket counter. You have done a great job with a simple solution,” Mr Pal said.
Similarly, the North Bengal office head of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Laxmi Limboo Kaushal, said: “Wonderful initiative, I have witnessed ease of passing without congestion.” Airport sources, meanwhile, said the number of complaints about traffic jams has also gone down drastically.
However, a few persons engaged in collecting parking fees have narrated a different tale. “The second alternative exit dedicatedly for a separate parking lot is a good solution, but we face congestion problems, especially on Saturdays and Sundays due to various reasons. Local transport operators are still not paying parking fees. We can’t press them just to avoid any untoward incident, and especially considering our safety,” said Fulchand Tigga, who is associated with the parking fee collection at the airport.
Another parking fee collector, Asit Ghosh said: “Congestion is created sometimes because of some drivers, who don’t want to pay parking fees and start arguing, even as a jam is seen in an instant in front of the terminal. Finally, they give us a 500-rupee note for the Rs 55 fee, and obviously it takes some time to return the change, while other drivers in the queue get angry and refuse to pay the fees.”
Observers, who frequent the airport for official purposes, said they have noticed a group of vehicles parked on the exit route both inside and outside the airport.
“To avoid traffic jams, airport authorities need to draw the attention of the toplevel police officials to monitor the same and stop parking at the non-parking zone,” one such observer said today.
It may be noted that to open the separate exit point from the parking lot, a structure, where police used to work earlier, was demolished, while airport authorities provided a new building for setting up the new police outpost.
In the new police outpost building, authorities have, meanwhile, increased the number of staff and posted a subinspector of police, Biswajit Bose, there.
“The SI, Biswajit Bose, is trying to make the area congestion- free, especially in front of the terminal building. Army vehicles are still parked there, that create snarls. Army personnel do not follow instructions of the police,” said a police officer.
Asked to comment, Bagdogra Airport director Rakesh R Sahay said: “The situation has started improving, and we have targeted to complete all realignments by May this year. We will ready category- wise parking areas. A new agency for collection of parking fees will be appointed in August, with new terms and conditions. No parking fee from private cars will be charged if it comes out within the stipulated time,” Mr Sahay said.
It may be mentioned here that Airport officials had recently said that the new rules for private cars have been implemented. However, it is learnt that the parking agency has not implemented the same, as the old contract is still in force.
“Though a big area is required to bring in overall development here, we will provide all the necessary services to travellers based on their feedback if they inform us through Twitter @aaibagairport,” Mr Sahay said.