Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Designed to fail: Not just Kochi, many of India’s major airports are vulnerable to disaster

The flooding was not surprising for Kochi airport since the airport, opened in 1999, was built after diverting a tributary of the Periyar river as shown in the map below.
Here are some of India’s other airports that are vulnerable to disaster because they have been planned and designed in flagrant disregard of environmental common sense.

Mumbai
Both the Mumbai airport’s runways obstruct the flow of the Mithi river. The first runway, along with the taxiway, extends over a culvert on the river while the second encroaches upon the river itself. When the river flooded in 2005, the airport had to be closed.

Chennai
In 2011, the Chennai airport’s second runway covered a culvert on the Adyar river. In December 2015, when heavy rainfall led to water from the Chembarambakkam lake being released into the Adyar, the airport was one of the first major installations to be completely flooded.

Jaipur
Jaipur’s second runway was completed in 2016. Like in Chennai and Mumbai, the runway was extended on a water channel connecting a series of tanks in the city.

Tirupati
The airport in Renigunta is built between a series of tanks. As these maps show, it encroaches on lake beds, which are also threatened by much built-up growth and plotted development.

Visakhapatnam
The entire roof of the Visakhapatnam airport was damaged in the 2014 Hudhud cyclone. India’s eastern coast is prone to strong cyclonic winds. Why was the roof not designed to withstand them?

Navi Mumbai
Not learning from disasters recent and past, the Rs 16,000 crore Navi Mumbai International Airport is being built by filling and diverting the Ulwe river flowing into the Panvel creek. The landfilling is already causing flooding in nearby village.

New Delhi
The airport’s swanky new terminal, T3, was built on one of the lowest points of the chosen site. The graph below represents the cross section along the red line marking the location of Terminal 3. It shows that when it rains, water from surrounding higher grounds flows to this point, the reason for the airport’s flooding in 2011 and 2013.
11/09/18 Teja Malladi/Scroll

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