Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Blatant irregularities hastened Air India’s downfall

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation's three FIRs in the 'Air India scam' which took place during the UPA regime have alleged blatant irregularities which hastened the downfall of the national carrier.
The FIRs, accessed by TOI, said the civil aviation ministry decided to purchase 111 aircraft for Air India costing about Rs 70,000 crore at a time when the airline was showing a profit of about Rs 100 crore and didn't have the capacity to purchase even a few aircraft. Due to this particular decision, the airline immediately went into huge losses, which increased every year to reach tens of thousands of crores, the CBI said, quoting from the allegation levelled by activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan in his PIL before the Supreme Court.
The FIRs mentioned an internal Air India report of 2000-01 which said the airline should only lease aircraft and not go for purchase. The view was overruled by the aviation ministry, the FIR said, quoting from Bhushan's allegations which led the SC to direct a CBI probe.
It was decided in 2004-05 that Air India will buy 68 aircraft instead of 28, as originally planned, a decision which quadrupled the expenditure from Rs 10,000 crore, as originally estimated, to Rs 44,000 crore. This apart, the government also decided to buy 43 planes for Indian Airlines at a cost of Rs 8,399 crore.
"Concerns regarding potential difficulties of Indian Airlines in successfully funding the acquisition process with a positive NPV (net present value) was raised within civil aviation ministry, but were ignored," the CBI FIR said, referring to one of the main allegations which led the court to direct the CBI to probe the alleged scam.
31/05/17 Neeraj Chauhan/Times of India