By Staff Correspondent
In a virtual ceremony today, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the New Integrated Terminal Building at Veer Savarkar International Airport, Port Blair. The state-of-the-art facility, costing around INR 710 crores, is set to handle roughly 50 lakh passengers annually.
Modi’s announcement arrives as part of an ongoing development drive in the remote island region of Andaman and Nicobar. While not physically present, the Prime Minister anticipated the forthcoming impact on local residents. He voiced that the new terminal would boost tourism, create employment opportunities, and stimulate business activity in the region alongside improved travel convenience.
The new terminal marks a significant increase in capacity, scaling up from a previous 4000 tourists to 11,000. Additionally, the new setup allows for simultaneous parking of up to 10 aircraft, signifying the potential for increased flight frequencies.
Despite the significant urban development experienced by India’s major cities, he remarked that development has often bypassed regions like the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Modi’s administration has aimed to rectify this disparity through ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ – an inclusive development model aiming to improve all aspects of life, including education, health and connectivity.
In the last nine years, the Indian government has channelled a budget of approximately INR 48,000 crores towards developing Andaman and Nicobar, more than doubling the previous allocation of INR 23,000 crores. This funding has facilitated significant advancements, including improved water infrastructure, universal bank account access, establishing of a medical college, and laying undersea optical fibre to enhance internet connectivity.
In PM Modi’s view, this development surge has spurred local tourism and transformed Andaman into a symbol of harmonious coexistence between development and heritage preservation. He emphasised that this transformation process has doubled tourist footfall since 2014, further boosting adventure tourism.
Alongside development, the prime minister stressed preserving and honouring India’s national heritage. He expressed gratitude for being able to raise the national flag at the same site where independence icon Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose once did. Moreover, he noted that 21 islands have been renamed in honour of the nation’s Param Vir Chakra awardees.
Concluding his address, Modi exhorted for continued commitment to the country’s development. Despite inherent challenges, he emphasised the transformative power of progress and expressed confidence that ongoing projects in Andaman and Nicobar would contribute to the region’s prosperity.
From an environmental perspective, the terminal was designed to harmonise with the island’s natural beauty, mimicking a shell-shaped structure. It incorporates sustainable features like double-insulated roofing, natural lighting inlets, LED lights, and low-heat gain glazing. It also boasts a 500 KW solar power plant, an on-site sewage treatment facility, and a rainwater catchment system to minimise environmental impact. These features will reduce the terminal’s ecological footprint and act as a benchmark for future infrastructure projects.