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Kerala government to move court questioning Adani’s airport bid

The government-owned Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) had participated in the bid till the last minute but Adani Enterprises quoted the highest and won it on Tuesday

india Updated: Feb 28, 2019 11:53 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kerala
kerala on airport bid,adani airport,aai
When the move to privatise the airport surfaced the state government mooted a Cochin International Airport Limited, a model private-public participation, and sought some concessions to the KSIDC.(File)

The CPI(M)-led Kerala government is planning to move the high court against the Airports Authority of India and Adani Enterprises questioning some of the provisions of the agreement after losing the bid to operate the international airport in Thiruvananthapuram.

The government-owned Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) had participated in the bid till the last minute but Adani Enterprises quoted the highest and won it on Tuesday. Adani had quoted a Rs 168 per passenger fee, KSIDC at Rs 135 followed by GMR at Rs 63.

When the move to privatise the airport surfaced the state government mooted a Cochin International Airport Limited, a model private-public participation, and sought some concessions to the KSIDC.

“We will move the court in a couple of days. We will not sign the ‘state support agreement.’ The state had invested heavily on land and we will not allow a private firm to get away with it,” a government spokesperson said.

Last time when the Kolkata airport was put on sale, the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government made it clear it will not sign the agreement forcing the civil aviation ministry to drop the airport from the list. The state has to provide power, water and other basic amenities to the airport.

“We doubt the Centre staged a drama in the name of bidding to select Adani. The group has no experience in running the airport either. The entire bid process sounds mysterious. How can a single group win all five bids? We suspect some foul play,” said Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The CPI(M) said it will launch an agitation from Thursday to block what it called a “complete sellout.”

“The Centre first agreed to the ‘right of first refusal ‘to the state government but later it was limited it to 10 per cent only. It was aimed at helping Adani. Our proposal was watered down at the eleventh hour to help the group,” the party’s state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said.

However, the opposition Congress criticised the government’s decision to participate in the bidding.

“The government should not have participated in the bid. After losing it how can you complain now? The government deliberately made it case weak,” said Congress leader VM Sudheeran.

Similarly, a section of the airport employees said the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) should have participated in the bid instead of KSIDC. CIAL was in the bid for Mangaluru airport and came second.

Other than Thiruvananthapuram, four other airports Lucknow, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and Mangaluru were up for bidding. Among the five, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangaluru quoted the lowest, Rs 168 and Rs 115 respectively.

Adani Enterprises was not available for its comments.

First Published: Feb 28, 2019 11:53 IST