Screaming for space

WHILE Jammu & Kashmir records a sharp rise in the influx of tourists, the Srinagar International Airport continues to be in mess, owing to insufficient space. Time for the Airports Authority of India to look this way and give this airport more space.

WITH the tourist season getting underway and with the opening of Asia’s largest tulip garden in Srinagar, the number of tourists landing in Srinagar shows a steep rise with each passing day. At times, as many as 92 flights operate from the Srinagar International Airport in a single day. However, with the increase in the number of tourists, the Srinagar International Airport seems to be in a mess for varied reasons. The Airports Authority of India which manages the Srinagar International Airport, Civil Enclave, cannot maintain
and manage the rush of tourists. The space available is no match to the massive number of tourists landing here. The counters of different airlines operating from Srinagar present
the look of an overcrowded market place. The check-in counters are always flooded with passengers and there is no space even to stand in the queue. The security-check counters
are no different. The queues are always getting longer leaving passengers with no space to stand. And once the security-check is complete and as passengers walk towards boarding gates, there is even more mess.
The seating arrangement is insufficient to accommodate the huge rush. The gates remain overcrowded and the situation there is always chaotic. Also, there are not enough shopping stalls and food courts. What makes matters worse is the unhygienic condition of the space at boarding gates. The entire space remains covered with bird droppings. Though the cleaning staff removes the excreta from the chairs in the mornings, but since birds keep flying around, they keep dropping excreta all over and sometimes on the passengers seated there. The mighty steel pillars and girders are covered with bird droppings. Mynas, sometimes in hundreds, can be seen pouncing upon dustbins. These birds pick food wraps and leftovers from the dustbin and drop them here and there and sometimes over passengers. There have been instances when mynas have attempted to take away eatables from little children in the area.It is a crucial thing to note that many tourists who visited Kashmir last year, wrote extensively on the mess they
encountered at the Srinagar airport.

The tourist inflow is certainly rising. As per official figures, some 22,60,000 tourists visited Kashmir during the year 2022. This year, the government is expecting a record increase in the number. This is in addition to the regular commuting which too runs in thousands on a daily basis. Taking into consideration the ever-increasing rush of tourists and the number of flights operating on a daily basis, the Srinagar International Airport is in dire need of expansion. The space available is no match to the need. The Airports Authority of India cannot afford to shuts its eyes to the gnawing needs of
this airport.


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