BENGALURU: Passengers who arrive or depart from the Bangalore International Airport and those who come to see them off or to pick them up cannot miss a ‘whiff of sewage stench’ that emanates from a sump ironically adjacent to a Cafe Coffee Day outlet, which has to face the ire of customers, and a drinking water point installed close to the sump.
The sump is located very close to the walkway which connects the terminal area to the parking areas, airport taxi area, and the Volvo bus bay. “The stench is unbearable during morning around 6.30 am to 9 am, and in the evening from around 5 pm to 6 pm. Lots of our customers get annoyed and say it right on our faces before they leave the cafe arena with whatever they have bought,” said Praveen Kumar, an employee with Cafe Coffee Day who has been working for over 3 years now.
“This smell has been bothering us for a long time now and our manager has brought this issue to the notice of the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) authorities several times, but this stench not only drives our customers away, but also does not provide a good 'air' for us to start our work here. During evenings there are more crowd in the way of passengers and their friends including foreigners who hang out here, but this stench really annoys everybody,” Praveen added.
The stench is not only bothering the customers and staff of the CCD, even the parking booth staffers face the same problem. “We feel that the sewage from all the toilets at the airport including the East-end and West-end toilets built recently flow into this one and only sump here, from which it is being pumped to a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) around one kilometre away. It looks like there is more amount of sewage coming into the sump than its actual capacity,” said Suresh, a staff at a parking booth close to the sump.
“Earlier it was ‘Sulabh’ public toilet which was a pay-and-use service near the parking lot that was functional, but as the restrooms were not maintained hygienically, the toilets had no users. Seeing its pathetic state, BIAL cancelled the contract of 'Sulabh' and started maintaining the toilet on their own and the toilet now started to attract more crowd,” added Suresh. The toilet is not only being used by passengers, but by cabbies, guests, ground staff, and other service staff of the Kempegowda International Airport.
“We think the smell is more in the morning as there are hundreds of people who use the toilets at the same time and during evenings there are lot of passengers who come out from the terminal to the parking areas. The smell is unbearable especially during cleaning times,” Mallappa, a guest service staff with a prominent airliner said.
BIAL authorities were apprised of the issue and a source told this newspaper that BIAL have taken up measures to ensure that it does not raise a stink by planting trees around the sump that would 'take away' the stench. The sump has been built in 2008 and it has been in the very spot for years together now and every connections that lead to the sump happen to be going underground and its impossible to remove the entire underground infrastructure and shifting the sump elsewhere.
“It is a sump that exists there behind the Cafe Coffee Day, and measures have been taken to ensure that it does not raise a stink. What happens is that only when the wind is blowing, there might be a whiff of smell in the air,” said a source from BIAL. “In the sump we have a machine, typically what happens in a plant, the machine keeps rotating the movement of sewage to clear it off so that it does not get accumulated,” the source added.
“Measures have been taken to ensure that it is not causing any discomfort in terms of smell because the sump is there since a very long time. It’s really not a complaint as such. We consciously understand the concern and measures has been taken to solve the issue. BIAL has planted some plants around the sump that would take the smell away and the authorities have done everything possible to reduce the stench. We have also ensured that the sump gets cleaned throughout the day by the machine. We value everybody's feedback and that's how the plants have come up to ensure that it takes away the smell does not cause any kind of discomfort to passengers or others. Ironically there is a drinking water point too installed very close to the sump.