Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel on Tuesday locked horns with Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia after the planner’s outburst against the Delhi airport’s troubles, in an unusual act of zeal.
Government sources said Patel had shot off a "sweet and sour" letter to Ahluwalia, in which the deputy chairman was reminded of the complex issues at stake — with an eyebrow raised at the admonition over the airport in a nation where everything from sanitation to roads — covered by the Planning Commission — works in coughs and splutters.
Patel, in his letter, said: "I take this opportunity to bring to your notice that the modernisation of Kolkata and Chennai airport is being delayed due to constant objections being raised by the Planning Commission about the scale and size of these airports which we plan to construct."
"I am sure in your many visits across Delhi and the country, your attention would have been drawn to the various problems of roads, electricity, water, sanitation, sewerage systems public transport etc... and as always you will effectively address these problems in a time-bound manner," Patel said.
It all began when Ahluwalia recently visited the Delhi Airport to receive a guest and tasted what hapless passengers go through every day.
After the harrowing experience Ahluwalia decided to call DIAL officials and give them a piece of his mind, though it is not clear in what capacity he did so. Passenger rants are not rare as GMR fumbles through the difficult task of renovating a facility in boom-time rush.
Patel was apparently not happy with the Ahluwalia’s protocol-busting intervention in the airport modernisation process. "I have been reading newspaper reports about your private visit to Delhi Airport which resulted in inconvenience caused to you and your personal guest, and your anguish over the slow progress in the modernisation and development work," began his letter, which zeroed in towards the grey areas that lie between planning and execution.
Patel pointed to the delays caused by the plan panel in awarding the Mumbai and Delhi airport modernisation deals and while thanking Ahluwalia for his expediting the process, mentioned lingering delays in getting government workers to help the upgradation.