2 airports on revamp radar
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2 airports on revamp radar

Amid clamour over Delhi and Mumbai airports, the revamp of Kolkata, Chennai airports is going ahead full throttle.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 12:12 IST

The clamour over the modernisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports might have barely subsided but the revamp of Kolkata and Chennai airports is going ahead full throttle. The government's firm intention to privatise the airports was reiterated by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Thursday in his address to the joint session of Parliament.

"The process of modernisation and expansion of Delhi and Mumbai airports through public private partnership has already commenced. Plans are being made for the modernisation and development of Kolkata and Chennai airports," Kalam said.

Senior civil aviation ministry officials confirmed as much. But this time, they said, the government is confident of tackling the storm of protests from workers. Efforts are on to start calling for bids for the airports by May with a view to complete the tender process within a year, they said.

According to sources, this time, the government will bargain for greater employee absorption. The willingness of GMR-Fraport and GVK — South Africa Airport to absorb 60 per cent of AAI employees in Delhi and Mumbai — the ministry's initial demand was that at least 40 per cent employees be retained — is another encouraging factor. For Kolkata and Chennai airports, the government is likely to hike the figure to a minimum requirement of 60 to 70 per cent, sources said. The government does not expect a battle on this front.

Ministry officials are aware that the resistance could be tougher in red bastion Kolkata. It government might work out special arrangements for employees to mollify the Left, but, does not anticipate much trouble from unions.

CPM MP and chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture Nilotpal Basu said his party was in absolute agreement with what the president said.

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 03:00 IST