This Bom­bay Boy Will Help City’s 2nd Air­port Take Off

The Economic Times - - Companies - ANIR­BAN CHOWD­HURY

R Kr­ishna Murthy is stand­ing on the roof of a build­ing at Par­sik Hill in Navi Mum­bai. From there he gazes to­ward a bar­ren patch of land and imag­ines a busy air­port with planes fly­ing in and out. “This is clearly the best van­tage point in this area to look at the project lo­ca­tion,” said the man who’s driv­ing the project to build Mum­bai’s sec­ond air­port, many years in the mak­ing. The hope is that, with the land that’s needed al­most ac­quired, work will shortly get un­der way. Murthy, 36, is in charge of Asia busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at the global avi­a­tion ser­vices di­vi­sion of Louis Berger Group, the main con­sul­tant for Mum­bai’s planned sec­ond air­port. He came to the project about six years ago, when he was asked to head to Mum­bai by Guillermo Ubilla, then Louis Berger vice pres­i­dent. Murthy, who has a mas­ter’s de­gree in trans­port sys­tems en­gi­neer­ing from Vir­ginia Tech, has been part of large projects such as a high-speed rail cor­ri­dor con­nect­ing Pitts­burgh to its in­ter­na­tional air­port. He’s also worked at Hartsfield Jack­son At­lanta In­ter­na­tional Air­port. “As an avi­a­tion sim­u­la­tion an­a­lyst in the plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment depart­ment, my fo­cus was op­ti­mis­ing air­port op­er­a­tions by re­duc­ing de­lays and im­prov­ing sys­tem ef­fi­cien­cies. Here I also worked on the fifth par­al­lel run­way and the new in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal,” he said. At­lanta has been the world’s busiest air­port by pas­sen­ger traf­fic since 1998 and by land­ings and take-offs since 2005. Murthy, who calls him­self a “Bom­bay boy”, had al­ways kept close track of the Navi Mum­bai project, so when the call came he was more than ready. “One of the rea­sons I got the project is be­cause I had pre­pared my­self so well. I had closely read the pro­posal doc­u­ment and pre­pared a de­tailed PDF file full of the salient points, pri­or­i­ties and po­ten­tial,” he said. Murthy drew up the mas­ter plan for the air­port with his team of 30 and four-five key people from Navi Mum­bai’s nodal body Cidco. Planned as an al­ter­na­tive to the ex­ist­ing Mum­bai air­port, which has no space left to ex­pand, the .` 14,573 crore project first faced ob­jec­tions from the min­istry of en­vi­ron­ment and forests on its pro­posed lo­ca­tion in the Ko­praPan­vel area, con­sid­ered an eco­log­i­cally frag­ile zone. Two other sites were also ruled out be­fore the cur­rent one at Pan­vel was cho­sen. Land ac­qui­si­tion has been pro­ceed­ing fit­fully. But ne­go­ti­a­tions with landown­ers are likely to be close to com­ple­tion now, Murthy said. The air­port will be com­pleted in four phases, ul­ti­mately giv­ing it an an­nual ca­pac­ity of 60 mil­lion pas­sen­gers. The first phase has been de­layed by three years and will now be com­pleted in 2018.

In his eight-and-a-half year ca­reer, the Tamil Brah­min born and brought up in Mum­bai, has worked on 40 air­port projects, mostly in emerg­ing mar­kets such as Brazil, the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands, China, Ecuador, Jordan, Kenya, Mex­ico, Namibia, the Philip­pines, Thai­land and Rus­sia. He’s also part of Louis Berger’s bids for var­i­ous other projects around the globe. “I par­tic­i­pated in a de­sign com­pe­ti­tion for the new Bei­jing in­ter­na­tional air­port, which will han­dle 150 mil­lion pas­sen­gers per an­num. Louis Berger along with Fos­ter and Part­ners are the two short­listed con­tenders for this de­sign com­pe­ti­tion,” he said. Murthy is also project man­ager for the planned sec­ond air­port in Goa. In 2010, he was project man­ager for an In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion study for a sec­ond air­port in Chen­nai. But work­ing in In­dia means com­mut­ing to the US al­most ev­ery two weeks as his wife and child have stayed on there. But he’s plan­ning to stick on un­til the air­port is ready.

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