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India unveils $3 billion new airport terminal

Officials unveiled a glittering new multibillion-dollar airport terminal in the Indian capital Saturday, a steel-and-glass structure intended to show that the country's infrastructure is finally catching up with its rapid economic growth.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Officials unveiled a glittering new multibillion-dollar airport terminal in the Indian capital Saturday, a steel-and-glass structure intended to show that the country's infrastructure is finally catching up with its rapid economic growth.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dedicated the ultramodern, $3-billion terminal at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport. Terminal 3 or T3 was built in just 37 months and will open for international passengers on July 14. Domestic passengers will shift to the new terminal on July 30.

"This airport terminal establishes new global benchmarks. It also exemplifies our country's resolve to bridge and bridge fast enough the infrastructure deficit in our country," Singh said at Saturday's ceremony.

Another similar modern terminal is planned for India's financial capital, Mumbai.

While the world's largest democracy has seen impressive economic growth, India's often dilapidated roads, ports and other infrastructure have been seen as an impediment to its competitiveness.

New Delhi recently launched a modernization drive including repaving roads, constructing overpasses and building a new metro rail system, with many of the projects slated to be complete in time for its hosting of the Commonwealth Games Oct. 3-14 that feature 71 nations and territories of the former British empire.

The new structure is spread over more than 120 acres (50 hectares) and with more than 160 check-in windows it can handle 34 million passengers a year, according to Delhi International Airport (P) LTD, the consortium that built and operates the airport terminal.

Delhi International Airport (P) LTD is a joint venture between Indian infrastructure company GMR group, Germany's Fraport, the government-run Airports Authority of India and Malaysian Airport Holdings.

"It is estimated that India's aviation sector has the potential to absorb up to $120 billion of investment by the year 2020," Singh said in his speech.