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India hails $3 billion showpiece airport terminal

By Sara Sidner, CNN
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India marks opening of new air terminal
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New terminal at Delhišs Indira Gandhi International Airport cost $3 billion
  • Terminal 3 built in just 37 months in anticipation of the Commonwealth Games
  • Officials say it will be able to handle 34 million passengers per year
RELATED TOPICS
  • India
  • New Delhi

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- A massive new terminal at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport is being touted as a testament to India's economic prowess.

The sprawling five million square foot building was officially opened Saturday by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi.

Complete with imported granite floors, huge white columns fitted with expensive speakers, 63 elevators, 95 immigration counters and a state of the art security and baggage system, Terminal 3 is also home to India's first transit hotel.

Officials say the new nine-level hub will be able to handle 34 million passengers per year, making it one of the biggest in the world.

"This is a confirmation that India has truly arrived on the world stage," India's Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel told the crowd of invited guests.

Terminal 3 is a far cry from the cramped, low tech international terminal that existed before.

In addition to its architectural grandeur, the $3 billion building is attempting to be green with high ceilings featuring skylights to save on energy consumption during the day.

It was built in just 37 months in anticipation of the Commonwealth Games, which are coming to Delhi in October this year.

But the terminal is not without its critics. Some question the amount of money spent on the project, pointing out less than one percent of the population travels by air.

 
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