Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Congress alleges govt monopolising airports, BJP says transparency ensured

New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday demanded a probe into the privatisation of six airports in the country alleging violation of rules and corruption, a charge denied by the BJP which said there is complete transparency under the Modi dispensation.
Initiating the debate on 'The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020', Congress member K C Venugopal alleged that the government was promoting crony capitalism by privatising airports in the name of developing them.
"There is a move to monopolise the Indian airports. In future, all Indian airports will be owned by only one company. How can you allow this...There is a clear violation of norms and regulations in giving airports to a single private entity. This is a clear scam of public money," he alleged.

"I am asking for an inquiry into all this. This is a clear case of corruption," he said.

Venugopal alleged that the government was bypassing norms and guidelines to favour a private entity and has ignored the advice given by its own ministries.

The recommendations of the Department of Economic Affairs and Niti Ayog on technical, financial and legal aspects of bidding process were ignored by the government, he said.

"There is an international attempt on the government to help crony capitalists. The government is paving red carpet for monopolisation of airports in the country," he alleged, adding till now Adani group has won bids to operate and develop six airports of Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram.

He said even when the Bill was pending in Parliament, the government sought bids to privatise six airports on December 18, 2018 and many players have alleged that the timeline for the bids was extremely short and there were a number of anomalies in the clauses for the bids proposal.
The Congress member also said that the concerns of state governments of Rajasthan and Kerala were not taken care of by the government. Both Rajasthan and Kerala have objected to the proposal for privatising Jaipur and Thirivananthapuram airports, for which land was given by the states.

The Kerala assembly has also passed a resolution against the privatisation of the Thiruvananthapuram airport, he said.

Countering the charge, BJP member GVL Narasimha Rao claimed there was complete transparency in developing airports and alleged that crony capitalism was promoted during the previous Congress-led UPA regime and cited 2G and coal auctions when courts had to intervene.
15/09/20 PTI/Times of India

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