Hyderabad: Shamshabad airport authorities are in a spot. The Centre’s order to name the ‘domestic terminal’ of the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport after N.T. Rama Rao has left airport officials nonplussed.
A senior official from GMR Ltd. which operates the airport, said: “We are a little confused on how to implement the orders. The airport is integrated and it has no separate terminals. Domestic and international arrivals are being handled in one terminal and departures in another.”
“How do we keep separate name boards in the same terminals is the question,” he said. “We will discuss with civil aviation officials and go about it soon,” he said.The Begumpet airport in the heart of Hyderabad had separate terminals for domestic and international travel; the domestic terminal was named after NTR and the international terminal after Rajiv Gandhi.
After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991, the P.V. Narasimha Rao government named the Begumpet airport after the slain leader. The domestic terminal was named after NTR after his death in 1996, by the then United Front government at the behest of N. Chandrababu Naidu, who was Chief Minister at that time.
The Telugu Desam government in 2005 started work on the Shamshabad airport and wanted it to be named after NTR. In 2008, the airport was named after Rajiv Gandhi. Senior Congress MP V. Hanumantha Rao said the renaming was intended to insult Telangana as well as Rajiv Gandhi. “AP CM is deliberately acting so to show his authority over Telangana. If he is really interested, he could have named any airport located in AP after NTR,” he said.
The senior Congress MP appealed to Telangana Chief Minister, K. Chandrasekhar Rao, to put a stop to the move. “Everyone knows the state was bifurcated, how can the Centre, at the behest of Mr Naidu, rename the only airport in Telangana by putting an Andhra leader’s name?” he asked.
Senior Congress legislator Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka said, “The Shamshabad airport is totally different from the Begumpet airport. How can the Centre split the terminals and fix NTR’s name for one of them?” he asked. There was no official word from the TRS, with top leaders closeted in meetings to discuss the party’s strategy for the ensuing Parliament session. “The Chief Minister may react to this only tomorrow,” said an official from the Chief Minister's Office.