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India hails $3 billion showpiece airport terminal

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 recently opened 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 making it the world’s third-largest, after Dubai and Beijing.

"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.

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.

Designed by HOK working in consultation with Mott MacDonald, the new Terminal 3 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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