Conversation with Additional Chief Planner (A & R)

  • Name: Mr. P. Suresh Babu
  • Designation: Additional Chief Planner (A & R)
  • Conference: Global Airport Development Conference – Asia, Kuala Lumpur
  • Date: 9th – 11th June, 2015

Thank you for your time Mr. Babu. Please tell our readers about the topic of the conference you attended and who else was part of your delegation?

We attended the ‘c in Kuala Lumpur from 9 to 11th of June 2015. Its focus was airport development and finance. I was joined by Joint Managing Director Ms. V Radha, IAS, Mr. Soma Vijaykumar, Chief General Manager (T&A) and Mr. Chowdhary, Chief Engineer, Navi Mumbai (North) as part of the delegation representing CIDCO.

What was the primary objective of the conference? Did you find your experience to be productive?

The conference was primarily meant to bring together airport operators, financers and policy makers to enable sustainable financing of airport development projects of all scales, shapes and sizes, while making them efficient for smooth and quick flow of traffic. Since CIDCO is in the process of building one of the world’s largest greenfield international airports with the aim of offering world class facilities for passengers, aircrafts, airline operations as well as cargo it is useful to know different approaches for financing such infrastructure development.

Can you talk about your airport exposure visit to Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong airports?

Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong airports handle huge amount traffic from Asia, Middle East and Europe with great efficiency. Kuala Lumpur airport has two terminals which serve domestic as well as international traffic and are connected by an automated shuttle train.  Hong Kong airport is currently under construction for addition of a new terminal. Both of these airports are very systematic and efficient and maintain a quick flow of traffic through them. They have been designed and built considering present and future needs.

As the delegation was so diverse, were each of your objectives fully achieved?

Even though the conference was focused on financing and sustainability, everything that was discussed was relevant to our work. For example, there was due emphasis on discussing topics such as relief and rehabilitation (R&R), engineering and planning of the airport and administration of the airport. These issues have a considerable impact on financing strategies and hence were part of the discussion.

Were all the issues that CIDCO faces reflected by others at the conference?

In overall terms the answer is yes. However, there was a feeling that this should have happened sooner, as we are half way through the process of calling for bids and all. Many of the financers there might have been interested in partnering with CIDCO on our project. Their expertise could have been leveraged for raising finances and exploring alternate avenues.

Could you talk about the R&R initiative that you at CIDCO are doing at the airport and how it is different from what you saw and heard at the conference?

In our airport project there are 10 village settlements or gaothans that have not been acquired by CIDCO. After considerable evaluation it has been ascertained that CIDCO needs to acquire them for development of the airport. In our R&R scheme the people are offered a package that includes several components. For an existing house the compensation is 3 times the area of plinth. In the case of land, 22.5 per cent of the land is given as a gross developed plot to the person affected. This results in a transfer of 15.75 per cent as net plot with the remaining for facilities. It is an interesting and favourable package in terms of market value. In addition we also undertake the activities of construction and/or reconstruction of facilities and amenities.

What is your impression of Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur ?

Kuala Lumpur is well managed and organised and shows good approaches to solving issues or urbanisation. Hong Kong has limited space and is relatively congested. We couldn’t visit the Petronas tower. But we did visit Hong Kong for half a day. Even though it is densely populated, development of Hong Kong’s main island was achieved 100 years ago and it is still maintained.

Would such exposure visits help CIDCO in future?

Absolutely. It should be compulsory for everyone. The exposure is valuable, not only for individual employees, but also for the organisation.

For example, CIDCO goes through its own processes for objectives such as finding financiers or engaging technical experts. Often this is achieved by going to consultants even though there are more efficient approaches. CIDCO can use conferences such as this one to achieve objectives related to financing and technical expertise.

For example, financiers at this conference were not aware that 1000 hectares of land is available with a self financing organisation like CIDCO to develop it.  If we engage in such conferences better financial and technical support might have been available for our projects particularly the airport. At the conference, there were more than 20 financers present who would be open to financing the airport with long term loans of 15 – 20 years.