Posted On Tuesday, March 05, 2013 at 04:25:49 PM
A separate drop-off point good five minutes’ walk from domestic departure terminal 1B for those arriving at the Mumbai airport by autos has angered passengers, who have called the new arrangement elitist and demanded that it be done away with forthwith.
What has fanned the passenger discontent further is the absence of trolleys and guards at the auto drop-off. While those arriving in cars and taxis get off right at the departure gates and have rows of trolleys available to carry their luggage, passengers who arrive in autos have to lug their bags all the way.
The auto drop-off point, introduced by the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), the airport’s private operator, on February 27 is located next to the BEST bus-stop behind Balaji restaurant. It can be a torturous walk to the terminal from there in the harsh Mumbai heat if you are carrying more than one bag. Also, there are no wheel-chairs available for the aged and the disabled at the drop-off point.
Rajan Sarma, 46, who was to catch a flight to Chennai on Monday and was running late was surprised when he was left stranded at the auto drop-off. "I am in a hurry. There is an emergency that I have to attend to in Chennai. And I have been dropped off here without any trolleys in sight," Chembur resident Sarma said. Joan Castelino, 38, a resident of Bandra, who was dropping off a Hyderabad-bound friend said since the path to the terminal from the drop-off passes through the parking bay, it becomes especially difficult for those carrying heavy bags.
While MIAL officials insisted they have provided trolleys and stationed guards to help passengers getting off autos, this Mirror correspondent did not see either on Monday. Terminal 1B caters to all six private airlines and handles nearly 25,000 passengers a day. I A, to which autos still have access, handles Air-India and the now defunct Kingfisher and sees much lighter traffic.
Air Passengers Association of India president Sudhakar Reddy said he will take up the matter with MIAL soon. “Will MIAL now charge a lower user development fee from passengers arriving in autos. If not, then how can they discriminate between cars and autos?”
Though the flow of vehicles around the airport is looked after by the traffic police, Senior Police Inspector, Vakola, P P Temkar said MIAL did not consult his office before setting up the auto drop-off point. “Traffic congestion is my headache. I will have to see if security concerns led MIAL to create a separate drop-off point for autos.”
Mumbai Rickshawmen's Union president Thampi Kurian said the legality of the auto drop-off can be challenged. “MIAL should have issued a notification and sought feedback. Such arrangements must first be introduced on a 15-day experimental period."
Justifying the new bay for autos, a MIAL spokesman the three-wheelers were adding to the chaos outside terminal 1B. “We are doing everything possible to make sure that passengers are not inconvenienced.”
Passengers like Coimbatore resident P Vineeth, 44, however, believe MIAL is taking them for granted. "I am running late for my flight and now have to sprint with my baggage in tow as there are no trolleys. To make it worse, there are no signboards telling me if I am to take aright or left to reach the terminal."