Kolkata: Pointing out the directional shift in India's trade, President Pranab Mukherjee Sunday said new Asian powers have emerged as India's major partners now.
"There was a time when 80 percent of our export destination was Europe, America and other developing countries. That scenario is not available today. For the past two consecutive years, export to Europe has shrunk considerably," said Mukherjee.
However, during the same time India' exports have increased substantially "because new Asian powers - called Asian tigers - are emerging as major partners", the president said while inaugurating the new terminal of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Bose airport.
With China emerging as India's second major trade partner, the president said the importance of Kolkata airport can hardly be over-emphasised.
Lauding the civil aviation ministry and the Airport Authority of India for constructing the "beautiful" terminal building, Mukherjee said, "When the Indian government decided to undertake the project for modernising the airports, there was a view that the substantial investment which needed to be made should come from the private sector."
"Couple of airports, including Kolkata... there was a demand that the public sector can do it. And they have done it exceedingly well."
Emphasising that we do not believe in any contradiction between the public and the private sectors as both were building the national resources, the president said: "The question is how efficiently and competently it can be managed and administered."
The terminal building constructed at a cost of about Rs.2,400 crore has the latest state-of-the-art and technical facilities. It has a capacity to handle 20 million passengers - 16 million domestic and four million international - annually, against nine million at the present.
"It is a huge number. I have no doubt that with this new state-of-the-art terminal, Kolkata will not only be the gateway to east India, it will play a major role in the Look East policy of the government of India," added Mukherjee.
The new terminal is a five-tier structure with the bottom floor being the arrival and the top the departures area. The roof is designed to harvest rainwater.
The terminal has a wide apron, for parking of aircrafts on both northern and northeastern sides of the new facility. About 18 aircrafts can be parked in an in-contact configuration format.
Passengers will be able to embark or disembark from any aircraft stand and be able to proceed to either domestic or international side.