Hyderabad international airport sustaining environment

Hyderabad: World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June every year. This is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment. In 2020, the theme is “It’s Time for Nature – Preserve Biodiversity”.

GMR led Hyderabad International Airport is also observing the World Environment Day like previous years raising awareness among the airport community about the importance of environment and sensitizing them about pressing environmental issues. When it comes to airports, Hyderabad International Airport, the 6th busiest airport in India has taken environment to be at its core since its inception as India’s first Greenfield PPP Airport in 2008.

In its 12th year, the airport has continued to keep environmental protection as an integral part of the business, and are committed to conducting the operations at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), in an environmental friendly and sustainable manner in line with GMR Vision, Mission, Values and Beliefs.

The Airport has been established in an area spreading over 5000 acres; and half of the premises are with natural ecosystem and support the life of various flora and fauna. The management of GHIAL is taking several efforts by maintaining plant nursery, huge landscape, and rainwater harvesting across the airport.    

The ACI recognized RGIA with Green Airports Platinum Recognition 2020 for its best Water Management in the Asia Pacific region for the Category: 15 to 35 million passengers per annum

A Green Path

Landscape design at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad is based on modern and contemporary architectural style created through artistic ideas. The landscape in all areas provides a strong visual identity through the use of simple, yet bold and aesthetic hardscape treatment, planting statements and streetscape expressions.

Once you enter the airport premises at the entry plaza you are greeted with a blooming expanse of sloped planters, curvilinear walls, palms, ground cover and xerophytic plants. The main access road of the airport offers 12 km long four-tiered landscape at its both sides. This comprises lawn, ground cover, shrubs and trees. 3 mt median running through this 12km stretch of the road is dotted with shrubs, plam trees equipped with cloud-based fully automated irrigation system.

Inside the terminal, there are over 15000 plants of various species, type and heights displayed at various locations of the building. All plants are planted in soil-less media and displayed in various types of Indian and imported planters made in steel, ceramic, FRP and fired clay.

Unique green wall or vertical garden covering 150 square meters at RGIA is the first of its kind in India to be displayed under indoor conditions. Scheme of plants are rotated at frequent intervals with fresh, disease free and healthy stock plants maintained at GHIAL nursery.

Apart from developing and maintaining the greenery at the airport, GHIAL in collaboration with its Corporate Social Responsibility arm – GMR Varalakshmi Foundation (GMRVF), has opened ‘Udyanam’ at the parking level of the passenger terminal building, which promotes the culture of green gifting among the passengers and visitors. One could buy plants from here. This is managed by the Empower trust, a unit of GMRVF.

As a Level 3+/Carbon-neutral’ airport, Environmental Sustainability has been one of the driving themes in the development of the Hyderabad Airport, and it permeates every aspect of the airport’s infrastructure and operations to this day.

The airport has a ‘green’ passenger terminal building, which has won the ‘Silver’ rating in ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’ (LEED) certification in the year 2008 by the US Green Building Council. Apart from the green terminal building. T

he airport also has a 10 MW capacity captive solar power plant, for its energy needs. The airport is also on its way to becoming a 100% LED airport and has the laurel of being the first in South India and only the 2nd in India to have the entire taxiway edge lights replaced from halogen lamps to energy efficient LED lamps.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Replenish (4-R)

Since its inception, sustainable development has been the core theme of Hyderabad International Airport. The airport is operating with a focus on conserving natural resources by practicing 4Rs concept- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Replenishment towards environmental protection. Some of the initiatives taken under 4R include:

A world class infrastructure for the efficient water management system. This comprises robust water storage and distribution network, water efficient devices, water flow meters, efficient collection and transfer system of domestic wastewater, sewage treatment plants and a wide drainage network of rainwater runoff and water holding tanks, among others.

Since, water is among the most critical of natural resources, it needs conservation and effective means for reducing its wastage and optimizing utilization. In line with this, the Hyderabad Airport was built from grounds up with an array of water efficient devices including E-tap (electronic sensors), E-flush, waterless urinals, spring loaded push taps, health faucets, low flush cistern, Aerators, etc. The airport also ensures that these are upgraded/ replaced with latest technology from time to time to continuously optimize the water consumption. 

Recycling & reuse of waste water for various purposes is another important element of Hyderabad Airport’s water conservation strategy. In this regard, efficient Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) have been installed to treat wastewater. The sewage from various facilities is collected and transferred to the 2 STPs which are of 925 KLD capacity each coupled with a wide network of sewerage system.

The treated wastewater is recycled for use in flushing, cooling tower makeup water and irrigation of the extensive greenery within the Airport. Also sludge generated from the STP is being used as manure for the plants in the airport’s landscaping.

In order to optimize water usage, the airport has installed a robust irrigation system which has automatic drip & sprinkler network catering to the greenery of road, median, rotaries, car park, terminal building and office buildings. The automatic irrigation system ensures right quantity of water for plants and hence reduces wastage.

Hyderabad Airport has also developed a comprehensive water management plan, which includes reinforcement of its rainwater harvesting capabilities by constructing a large reservoir with a water holding capacity of 6,00,000 cubic meters, which is sufficient to meet the considerable quantum of airport’s requirement throughout the year.

Besides the main reservoir, Hyderabad Airport has established a number of other rainwater harvesting structures to conserve and effectively utilize the runoff generated from various zones within the airport. For example, the water runoff from the ‘airside’ covering runways and taxiways is collected through dedicated network of drains into a large holding tank of capacity 135,000m3.

In fact, going beyond rainwater harvesting, Hyderabad Airport has been taking measures to support the ground water table in the area, with a recharge basin has developed in 40 acres in the airside with contains 10 artificial recharge wells to help rehabilitate the ground water levels. As a result of various measures, the rainwater net recharge at RGIA is estimated to be 1.729 million cubic metres per annum.

Going forward, GHIAL aims to further strengthen its rainwater harvesting capacity and ground water recharge systems, enhance the wastewater recycling potential and reduce water consumption at source through various measures and thereby achieving the coveted Water Neutral status.

RGIA proactively engages with the employees, airlines, ground handlers, concessionaires, flight kitchens, cab operators and influences them to adopt water efficient practices. The airport also actively promotes environmental awareness to sensitize the airport community and the passengers by observing various days like World Environment Day, World Forestry Day, Earth Day, etc. Earlier RGIA has won ACI-Asia Pacific Green Airports 2019 Silver Recognition for Rainwater Harvesting Project for efficient ground water recharge and surface water usage.