The Maharashtra government’s decision to lease five airports — at Yavatmal, Nanded, Latur, Baramati and Osmanabad — to Reliance Airport Developers Limited (RADL) for 95 years has invited a public interest litigation (PIL).
The PIL was filed before the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court.
Latur-based businessman, Babasha Khan (35), filed the PIL in September 2009 seeking that the government’s decision, which was taken on August 21, 2009, be quashed.
The decision was taken during the last Cabinet meeting before the state went to polls.
The PIL states that the decision is unfair and not in public interest.
RADL operates as a subsidiary of Reliance–Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.
A division bench of Justice P.V. Hardas and Justice N.H. Patil has issued notices to the central and state governments asking them to file a reply.
The HC has also issued a notice to National Airports Authority of India, Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation (MIDC), RADL and the Election commission of India.
Khan’s advocate Satish Talekar said the decision to lease the airports was taken despite objections raised by several government departments including the Revenue and Forest Department, Planning Department, Finance Department.
The Revenue Department had raised an objection stating that the maximum period of lease should not exceed 30 years as provided in the Government Resolution dated February 8, 1983.
On August 21, 2009, the government decided to lease fully equipped airports owned and run by MIDC to RADL. The total area covered by the airports is approximately 601.5 hectares, valued at more than Rs. 10,000 crore.
The government has spent more than Rs 500 crore over building runways and air strips, constructing terminal buildings and providing other facilities, the petition contends.
RADL has offered Rs 27 crore for Yavatmal, Nanded and Latur Airports and Rs 36 crore for Baramati and Osmanabad Airports.
The PIL also asks why the government took the decision hurriedly in August 2009 when the subject was under consideration since September 2007.
There is no provision to cancel the lease deed if the private company fails to use the entire land for the purpose for which it is leased.
The PIL says it is possible that RADL will use the unused land for commercial purposes.