CHENNAI:You can stand on them, plonk your travel cases down on them and even stretch out on them when there aren’t seats available. But if you’re planning to open up your tiffin box and wolf down your meal while sitting on the carpets at the Chennai Airport, then beware. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has put up warning signs that eating on the carpets that line the waiting area in the Domestic Terminal has been strictly prohibited — possibly making them the only airport to take cognisance of an age-old maintenance problem.
A senior official at the airport explained that the carpets were being ruined because food particles were not just messing with the carpet’s fibre base, but also attracting pigeons that usually perch on the roof of the airport terminal. “It is understandable when food spills by accident, but people tend to come very early for flights and bring food from home. When they travel as a family, there is a tendency to sit on the carpet and serve the food out and this is really causing a lot of spillage. Cleaning it after hundreds of people have stamped on it is quite a task,” said the official.
The move to put up the boards and make the matter official has drawn some jibes on social media, but it may just stop people from complaining that the carpets are dirty, sticky and smelly. “When people do it at railway stations, it is easy to clean it off the concrete or tile floor. But maintaining a carpet inside a small house itself is such an issue, so it is understandable that they have taken this step. I have found that the carpets often have dirt embedded in them, so if that can change by stopping people eating on the carpets, then so be it,” said Raksha Tiwary, an HR professional based in Chennai.
The carpets, though installed in 2012, have been refurbished at least four times since —besides the daily vacuuming that is mandated of the housekeeping staff, “Sometimes, people complain that there is no place to sit and eat, so we advised them to use empty seats at the food court when all the seats are taken,” said an insider. Another official added that this was one of the measures being adopted to keep the place cleaner in the run up to the Global Investors Meet. “These days, we are making a conscious drive to improve the quality of the airport premises. Keeping the carpets clean is an important step in that direction,” she said.