The CPI-M and its affiliated trade union CITU have sharply criticised the Planning Commission for suggesting that the Kolkata airport should be modernised by a newly-set up subsidiary of Airports Authority of India (AAI) and airports at Chennai and 35 other non-metro cities be developed with private sector participation.
Raising fears about further delay in modernisation of the Kolkata airport, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday seeking his personal intervention in the issue. He noted that the Planning Commission at a meeting held on Monday had decided to develop the Kolkata airport through an AAI subsidiary.
"One cannot understand the rationale of such a decision... Naturally, justifiable apprehensions arise whether such a decision has been taken in order to facilitate the future process of privatisation of Kolkata Airport, he said.
He reminded the PM that a meeting of the Committee on Infrastructure in June 2006 had decided that the issue of modernisation of Kolkata and Chennai airports would be pursued on the basis of discussions with the respective state governments. The Planning Commission's decision on Kolkata airport appeared to be "designed to sabotage the decision" taken by the Committee on Infrastructure, Yechury felt.
The CPI-M leader wrote that the Commission had also decided to modernise 35 non-metro airports through the public-private partnership or corporate route which would "directly contradict" the infrastructure panel's decision.
CITU president MK Pandhe also wrote a letter to the PM on similar lines asserting that the Planning Commission should not be allowed to become another "power centre" in the country.