Has Mysuru gone Bengaluru way? – 3:  KIA Location: A Myopic Decision
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Has Mysuru gone Bengaluru way? – 3: KIA Location: A Myopic Decision

December 29, 2021

Kempegowda International Airport, a Jewel in Karnataka’s Crown

By R. Chandra Prakash

Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) at Devanahalli today is considered to be the best airport of the country and one of the best in the world. It is the pride of the State. Its expanse, its highly manicured gardens at the entrance, the overall high quality user-centric facilities provided here, the interior decor, very clean and hygienic maintenance, vast neatly demarcated parking areas, near perfect security systems among other positive factors make this international airport stand out not only within the country but even internationally.

Anyone who has visited the New York’s Kennedy airport will surely wonder whether that airport really deserves to be worthy of being the world’s busiest airport? Because the facilities there are very basic and not to the requisite international standards. Even London’s new Heathrow airport, though better than Kennedy airport, does not compare with KIA. May be Paris Charles de Gaulle airport is distantly-nearer to KIA in some sense of expected international airport standards.

Interestingly, KIA is still developing. Second and separate runway-tarmac is being built for national airline services, separating them from the international airline services. After completion of these developmental projects, KIA will surely be the world’s top airport! Therefore, one can be justly proud of our Kempegowda International Airport. However, on hindsight the location of a new International Airport at Devanahalli was the second biggest blunder that has devastated Bengaluru.

Need for a New Airport

Let us quickly recapitulate the historical events that lead to the location of KIA at Devanahalli. Very fast development of IT and BT industries in and around Bengaluru, making it world’s Silicon Valley during the last decade of last century and the beginning of this century, generated unprecedented international travel from and to Bangalore. The capacity of the existing HAL airport had reached its optimal limits, both to the service providers and to the service users.

Further, being part of defense establishment, any further scope for expansion of this airport was ruled out. HAL itself was confronting with greater demands from the Air Force activities. Therefore, the Government was compelled to think of a new place for putting up a new International Airport for Bangalore.

A shop inside Kempegowda International Airport.

Search Committee

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Committee consisting of political bigwigs, top bureaucrats and a few chiefs of very big industrial houses was formed to find a suitable place. There were discords, conflicts of opinions, threats to resign and a lot of public posturing. And finally, after a lot of back and forth, Devanahalli, located about 40 kms north of Bangalore, was selected. Was it once again a political decision? It will be known only when people involved in this decision come out openly and tell the truth. After the scrapping of NICE Economic Corridor between Mysore-Bangalore, on the hindsight it will be seen as to what a big blunder it was to have located the KIA at Devanahalli.

The Opportunity Cost

Opportunity Cost is defined as the potential loss from a missed opportunity — the result of choosing one alternative and forgoing larger benefits of another. That is the cost of the benefits of foregone opportunity. Let us understand the Opportunity Cost of present KIA.

The entire 40-km area between Bangalore and Devanahalli was full of grape gardens, farms and more importantly, defense establishments like Air Force Command, Border Security Force and several pharmaceutical and other industrial units. The location of Devanahalli is nearing the State border with erstwhile Andhra Pradesh and present Telangana State. Whatever the justification given for the decision in favour of locating International Airport at Devanahalli, the overall cost-benefits to the State could never have been viable.

The entire green belt in this 40-km area has been totally devastated. Lack of prior transportation plan has resulted in congestions and bottlenecks. Repeated road-widening and improvements are adding to avoidable capital expenditure. Lack of Metro rail link is making the users shell out high fares in accessing the airport. Defense establishments in Air Force and BSF have been unnecessarily exposed to threats and future developmental constraints. The entire cost of development in the form of multi-lane road, flyovers, rail-link, metro and others will be narrowly beneficial to very small section of the population. And above all, Devanahalli being nearer to Telangana borders, this International airport is of greater benefit to the users of neighbouring State. For the users from our own State, this location only adds to their costs, both time-wise and money-wise!

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The opportunity cost of this decision to locate KIA at Devanahalli is enormous to the State and to the user public. These opportunity costs could have been avoided. Let us consider the alternative locations that would have been of greater benefit to a larger part of the State.

Tarmac at KIA [Pics. courtesy: Internet]

Alternate Locations: Lost Multiplier Benefits

On the hindsight, the decision to locate KIA at Devanahalli was totally a myopic one. Let us just imagine if only this airport was located between Bidadi and Ramanagaram, or say between Ramanagaram and Maddur beside Bengaluru-Mysuru Highway! This entire belt would have exploded with the economic prosperity. The entire costs of additional infrastructural development would have relieved Bengaluru of pressure on residential demands and traffic congestions. It would have benefited the nearby towns and cities. And time-wise and cost-wise, Mysureans would have been highly benefited, as the distance would have been around 70-80 kms !

Conversely, suppose this airport were to have been located on Bengaluru-Mangaluru Highway somewhere between Bengaluru and Channarayapatna. Then it would have benefited three important cities of the State — Bengaluru, Hassan and Mysuru ! And the entire area all along this route would have been  economically developed ! Above all, the defense establishments and green belt of Bengaluru-Devanahalli would have been protected, benefiting Bengaluru’s climate !

Huge capital expenditures being incurred on providing flyovers, Metro rail and others only to facilitate the access to the KIA is benefiting a very small segment of the Bengaluru’s geographical area and population. And that too by building up greater pressure on the overall infrastructural services within the metropolitan city of Bengaluru. Location of KIA at Devanahalli was a big blunder for which the  State will continue to pay a very heavy price all time to come.

Well, one can only ponder over this split milk! But above two blunders have imposed huge costs on Bengaluru and have catapulted the city from once a City with European Touch to what it has become today — a Failed City !

[Part – 4 next Wednesday]

29 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Has Mysuru gone Bengaluru way? – 3: KIA Location: A Myopic Decision”

  1. Riyaz Usman says:

    //Devanahalli being nearer to Telangana borders//

    Devanahalli is 350 kms from Telangana Border. What is the writer smoking?

  2. K.S.Bhagavan says:

    The South, East & Western parts of Bengaluru had already seen development. Good to see the developments that have taken place in Bangalore North because of KIA.

  3. Nagaraju says:

    No doubt the present location of Bangalore international airport is wrongly chosen. This being nearer to airforce campus and almost away from Karnataka state near Telangana border, any development here is of least benefit to state people. If location was chosen around Bangalore- Mysore highway or Bangalore-Hasssn highway, would have helped local population and nearby towns develop and also would have helped in decongestion of Bangalore city to a considerable extent.

  4. Balu says:

    Riyaz Usman: can check distance Hindupur and Madanapalle from KIA..

  5. S. S Asokan says:

    Absolutely right . Two political parties conflict of interest is the result of this decision . Hosur put all infra burden on Bangalore and KLA more benefitted neighbouring state . If we have located in Bangalore Mysore stretch 140 km would have developed in to a economic hub

  6. Sharath says:

    Certainly not the best airport in the country. After passing security, the gates are very closely placed. Even while it is less crowded, it feels extremely cramped due to leak of space

  7. Sharath says:

    Certainly not the best airport in the country. After passing security, the gates are very closely placed. Even while it is less crowded, it feels extremely cramped due to lack of space

  8. Prashanth says:

    Location of KIA near bidadi or kunigal would have helped bangalore to grow southwestwards , thereby helping people of Bengaluru, Ramanagara, Tumkur and Hassan districts to access a single airport. Also, financially would have saved lot of money as there would be no need to construct and maintain airports in Mysore and Hassan(proposed)

  9. Na says:

    Flat land was the problem in area u specified
    Devanahalli with no water can’t be said has green land
    It’s near to AP and not Telangana

  10. Girish says:

    This article doesn’t have any semblance of truth, on one hand it says 40kms is too far and on the other hand support new airport at chnnarayapatna which is more than 100kms away !
    Telangana is moe than 300kms away and an airport which attracts neighbouring states people is a better idea, not a ill concieved one.

  11. Prabhakar says:

    The opinions expressed are highly biased. It’s a right decision.

  12. Hemanth says:

    Hyderabad made good decisions and Bangalore made bad choices and continues to make.
    Airport without a ring road, no suburban rail,
    Slow metro work, all IT corridors greatly congested

  13. Anonymous says:

    The writer has certainly not visited Paris CDG Airport and says it is comparable in standards to KIA.
    Wake up! The frog has only seen the broken well

  14. Shailesh says:

    So the writer thinks 40kms from city is too far but wants the airport in ramnagara or chanrayapatna which are farther from Bangalore City and it’s IT clusters , and excuse me what ? Bangalore a failed city ? Are you freakin nuts ? Let me give you a few stats of the failed city , it accounted for 1/3rd of office space absorption in the entire country , it is the fastest growing tech capital in the world , it accounts for more than 40% of software exports of the entire country . Next time try and be a little unbiased towards Bangalore whose problems seem to give a sense of vindication .

  15. A says:

    Though Star of Mysore is a local newspaper, it should maintain some standards and not publish such poorly written articles. Star of Mysore is liked by many readers as it covers local events and happenings very well but when these kind of articles are published, it puts off the readers.

  16. Gautam says:

    This author is a member of that disgraceful outfit: MGP, which I call as Mysore Grahachara Parishad. Note the word: Grahachara here. It is not misspelt, I use it deliberately , to indicate the ignorance of its members.
    He never understood the Bengaluru of 1960s, the reasons why the big factories like the HMT, BEL and ITI were located nearby the city. He never understood too what these cheap IT tech sweat shops , have done to Bengaluru.
    I suppose, his take is as an Indian , holding an Indian passport, having to get visas to visit all Western countries and with limited access to hard currencies. For an international visitor, what is important is that his/her passport is well recognised with no need for via applications, and that he/her has access to hard currencies. I am here observing as a citizen of a Western country, and I do not have issues with JFK, Heathrow or Charles de Gaulle airports,. With one credit card and a debit card linked to my Western bank account, I have travelled to all travelling In Europe, USA, Canada , Australia and NZ. I do not care how big/small the airports are in these countries.
    KIA is a third world airport which I do not visit, given the corrupt and public health statuses Bengaluru and in India.
    However, about his observation: “Anyone who has visited the New York’s Kennedy airport will surely wonder whether that airport really deserves to be worthy of being the world’s busiest airport? Because the facilities there are very basic and not to the requisite international standards. Even London’s new Heathrow airport, though better than Kennedy airport, does not compare with KIA. May be Paris Charles de Gaulle airport is distantly-nearer to KIA in some sense of expected international airport standards”
    This author, shows his ignorance in the above observation. The busiest airports are classified in a number of ways; By international flights, by passenger traffic etc.. On both counts, JFK is not the busiest,. There is no new Heathrow airport, but internal alterations, additional terminals. Both these airports were constructed decades ago. Charles De Gaulle too. But they are still modern in terms of the airport technologies. Good facilities too to the Western standards.
    Passengers want seamless transport from the city centre to the airport: In both Paris and in London, one can change from Train to Metro lines easily,. What does he mean by the facilities? Whatever they are the KIA, in a third world congested place will never be hygienically comparable to the Western international airports. In both London and Paris, there are choices of accesses to international airports. In London, the Gatwick, the City and the Stanstead international airports are choices not far from the Heathrow. In Bengaluru One could use EuroStar train to reach Paris and travel by trains to most West European countries. Travels within USA, have multiple choices.
    Do not worry folks, when Kerala and Tamil Nadu get linked better to Mysuru ( Bullet train from Chennai was mentioned), you will bet massive number of immigrants, and Malayalee gold smugglers who would like to launder their money in Mysuru. Mysuru will soon have air link to Gulf States, with an international airport at Mandakalli!

  17. Shantala says:

    Bengaluru is the capital of so called IT companies, who do the cheap outsourced software coding work, not the innovative tech work. For tech capital examples, one should look at Shanghai in China, with its very high speed train links, and every known electron ic gadget small or large is manufactured. As for the software, China excels in Mobile software design, creating new apps which Indians down laods in thousands!

  18. Gautam says:

    Bengaluru, a tech capital of the world! I am laughing as companies there do cheap software code coolie work deploying programmers, who are paid a fraction of the salaries paid to their counterparts in the Western countries.
    China by any standards, rules supreme in term of science and technology, and the development work which are innovations.

  19. Captain Jack Sparrow says:

    Ha, Ha, this man is comparing KIA with other airports in USA and Europe!. Well, that is really funny. You cannot drink a bottled water in the KIA, without getting serious health problems! Look at Bengaluru and its health and environmental issues. A huge cesspit!

  20. Questo says:

    Sorry to burst your bubble, KIA is not one of the best in the world, not even remotely. The entire international terminal is quite small and has very few food joints/shopping places, when compared to say Dubai, Qatar, Changi, Japanese, Chinese… airports. Many airports in US are also pretty good and you cant take the worst of US (JFK) and compare it with the best of India. And KIA is not even the best. Chennai airport is better than KIA, it’s larger and aesthetically better than KIA.
    Also, KIA is not closer to Telangana, but to Andhra. On this, I agree with the author. They should have placed KIA closer to Mysore or Hassan highways. But on the other hand, there might not be dry flatlands available in these regions required for a big airport.

  21. Rajgopal says:

    Those who were politically powerful then chose the location over the much recommend Bidadi. The reasons were obvious.

  22. Garadi Mane Questo says:

    The final verdict on KIAS is delivered . It is by @Questo. You better trust his judgement.
    He had a final word too about the pyramid entry to Louvre, if you guys remember.
    And about the tech savvy Yankee intense exercise.

  23. Gusto says:

    This author in his articles is looking through the wrong end of the scope.
    The Bengaluru way, is not merely the congestion and pollution etc.. of city expanding rapidly., with the pride of IT tech hub, comes the serious side effect-thousands of IT techies who do not speak the state language Kannada, have made their homes, and more of them coming in large numbers. Which means Kannada is not heard in m any of the IT tech firms-most start ups and enterprises have majority non-Kannada speaking people. Kannada is not heard in new housing development running along the corridor of this airport.
    Mysuru, with the 10 lane highway, fast train links to other states-Shatabdi contributed in a massive way, bringing in more such IT techies as the ‘digital chub planned, and other techies too, who do not speak Kannada. That is the Bengaluru way. Try reciting: Bommana Halli Kindari Jogi poem” , in front of these techies, who make( many have made) Mysuru, their abode, only to see their eyebrows raising!!
    Yes, some one will be “really rolling over his grave” then!!


    Before selecting, there was a lot of discussions on the location. JDS wanted this to be located near Ramnagar to benefit both cities but was over ruled.

  25. K.S.Bhagavan says:

    With the coming of the airport, North Bangalore hitherto underdeveloped inspite of the Yelahanka satellite town located there, has also seen development by leaps & bounds.

  26. Captain Jack Sparrow says:

    @Vasudev and @Hhagavan
    You have opposite opinions!
    Let me explain to both of you.
    First ,@Vasudev. Any relation to U B Balachandra, a friend I knew? This ‘Garden City’, the ‘Jewel’ as you refer to it, was reduced to a city where massive numbers of people emigrated in other parts of India to work in large factories like HMT, BEL and ITI, and they alone tripled the population of the city in 1960s. If you had looked at the state of the city in 1970s, you would have realised that it became a large polluted dump, choking with people. You lost ‘your ‘Garden city’ , ‘your jewel’ 50 years ago. All later so called developments were nails in the coffin of the city.
    Second,@Bhagavan. Hare Bhagavan, Yelahanka was a distant town only in the late 1950s, came to attention when a shocking murder of a whole family of lawyer in his house near Majestic area then, and the murderers travelled to Yelahanka, and left some evidence there. But by the end of 1960s, Yelahanka was a fully grown extension of Bengaluru. @development by heaps and bounds’ means more housing colonies, more massive numbers of people arriving and more congestion and eco system destruction and more filth and degradation.
    Just look at what these IT sweat shops, the so called IT hub, whose purpose is to use to USD and Rupee conversion differential to deploy IT coolies to carry out the dredge of software coding -calling it software development. No innovation there, but it allowed your IT compan y founders to become Dollar billionaires, sending their sons and daughter to the USA to get their education right after their matriculation, buying apartments there. They have bought bright future for them. Look at what this so called IT revolution in India has done, Neatr Chennai, the Mahabalipuram, once an archaeology wonder is reduced to a polluted edifice, as more IT sweat shops arrive, doing the cheap IT work for foreign companies.
    Now your PM Modi wants to export millions of IT techies to other countries, and argues with every Western leaders to give them work visas.
    That is why the KIA came into being-to export more IT techies!1
    Your country is sinking by the population explosion.

  27. Garadi Mane Questo says:

    @U B Vasudev
    Howdy? My research says, you are a dentist in Florida and have an interesting bunch of feedback from your patients!! Not surprised as the healthcare is a money spinning business there.
    Bengaluru caught the ‘Yankee disease’ making money whichever way possible. The cheap IT labour in plenty made it attractive to IT companies there. Look at how the massive number s of Indian students and IT techies, arriving on on H1B visas o have transformed almost every city there , not for the good, I should add.
    In your neck of the woods, the once beautiful Florida, became the crime citadel with Cubans leading the way. When you think of Bengaluru, think of Miami in 1960, and Tampa too then. What happened to them in the succeeding decades.
    While one might not witness the scale of political corruption found in India, the recent presidential election, does no credit to USA. The postal voting without proper ID checks for example? The so called progressives in the Democratic Party, who go to any extent to have their way? Think about your state’s prominent resident, Trump!
    The police are constrained to such an extent that criminals have their field days, and the fear and chaos it creates. Obama and Kamala Harris-not from the much tormented black slave stock-but off springs of students trying to stay in the country, get elected as blacks
    MostUS states have legalised cannabis, once the substance which prevented a foreigner ( an alien!)to visit the country.
    Wait until the demented Papa Biden/Harris let all those millions of Latinos at the border in.

  28. Garadi Mane Questo says:

    Apologies, a few typos.

  29. Nandini says:

    Locating an international airport, wherever the example you take, has always been political decision.
    In the US, Senator are brought to the fold for important votes, by giving into their demands-the location of an airport/federal -funded edifice of any kind, etc.. etc.. If one takes time and examines the location of top-ranked international airport in a democratic country,, one sees a political compromise. Many issues too. Arthur Hailey’s ‘Airport’ novel and its film version come to mind.


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