The existing security arrangements in the new airport on the outskirts of Vellore on the Chennai – Bengaluru Highway are being reviewed by a team from Chennai airport as part of preparations to start operation from the new facility.
Airport officials said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which grants approvals for airport operations, also monitors the security arrangements regularly. Along with Central forces, local police were also engaged in mock drills and deployment of security personnel at sensitive spots in the new airport. “The periodic review of security arrangements in the new airport is to plug any loopholes in the surveillance system once the operations start,” said an airport official.
Spread over 97 acres on the highway, the airport was built at a cost of ₹65 crore. It comprises a runway, which is 850 metres long, taxiway, ground handling equipment, air traffic control (ATC) and aviation information receiving facility, terminal building and oil depot. A complete fencing of the premises has also been done for the past few weeks. Approach roads to the airport are also laid.
The old airstrip, which can operate only eight-seater aircraft, has been widened to operate 20-seater planes that would connect major airports like Bengaluru, Chennai, Tirupati, Coimbatore and Salem.
Officials said the new airport was sanctioned under the second phase of the UDAN-RCS (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik- Regional Connectivity Scheme) a few years ago to provide connectivity to smaller towns especially those that are closer to metropolitan cities and tier-two cities. Apart from Vellore, Thanjavur was another prominent town that was selected under the scheme for the operation of domestic flights with ATR aircraft. The new airport will be a boost to domestic travellers including those from Christian Medical College (CMC), VIT, leather traders in areas like Ambur, Arcot, Vanniyambadi and Vellore, officials said.