Saturday, August 22, 2020

After Kerala govt opposes airport privatisation, Civil Aviation Minister Puri says state bid failed to qualify

New Delhi: A day after the Union Cabinet cleared leasing out of three airports — Thiruvananthapuram, Jaipur and Guwahati — to Adani Enterprises, Kerala state government opposed the privatisation of the Thiruvananthapuram airport. Kerala Chief Minister (CM) Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi, saying the “unilateral decision” taken by the central government was against the wishes of the people of the state.

As the centre-state ties have turned a little sour, aviation experts, retired Air-force officers, top industrialists who spoke to Times Now Digital strongly endorsed the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model in the long term perspective. However, an all-party meeting convened on Thursday comprising the LDF and the UDF decided to pass a resolution in the state assembly against the union cabinet decision to hand-over the airport to Adani Enterprise Limited on a Public-Private Partnership.

Responding to the allegations by the state government that privatisation of the Thiruvananthapuram airport was a unilateral decision of the centre, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri shared a series of tweets. He said, "Kerala is the pioneer as far as airports under Public Private Partnership are concerned. First PPP airport in India came up in Kochi in Kerala. It is a successfully run airport with a capacity of 13 Million Passengers Per Annum &  was handling 9.62 MPPA in".

He added that another very successful example of PPP mode is Kannur, also situated in Kerala. "In fact, it was during the UDF regime in Kerala that the foundation for Kochi airport was laid in 1994 & the airport was inaugurated in 1999 during LDF regime. Now, Kerala Government, running two very successful airports in PPP mode, is opposing the handing over of Thiruvananthapuram airport under PPP mode," he said.

Talking about the all-party meeting that opposed the Cabinet decision, Puri said, "It has come to my knowledge that an all-party meeting in Kerala has opposed the PPP model at Thiruvananthapuram airport. If Kerala Govt is against privatisation, then why did it participate in the bidding process? State Govt was given a fair chance & Right of First Refusal (RoFR) if their bid was within 10% below the range of highest bid. However, they bid 19.64% below."
He further shared, "Then they approached Hon'ble Kerala High Court which dismissed the petition in Dec 2019. Petitioners then filed a SLP in Hon'ble SC. Apex Court remitted the matter back to Hon'ble Kerala High Court. There is no stay in the case either by Hon'ble SC or Hon'ble Kerala High Court."
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