Air connectivity will remain a distant dream for the citizens of Gulbarga and Shimoga. Bickering amongst the partners of the joint venture company Regional Airport-Holdings International (Rahi), has escalated; Rahi Aviation Holdings Pvt. Ltd. (RAH) has threatened to launch legal action against partner IL&FS Transport Networks Limited (ITNL), for allegedly “impeding the implementation of the Gulbarga and Shimoga Airport projects.”
In a press release issued here on Thursday, RAHI chairman Umesh Kumar Baveja said legal action was initiated against ITNL and IL&FS Engineering. “It is a brazen display of corporate ego and the institutional might of IL&FS and its group of companies, which has resulted in both Gulbarga and Shimoga Airport projects getting bogged down for the past year,” he said. Both airport projects have been languishing for want of appropriate response from the IL&FS group.
The release said that Rahi had endeavoured for the past year to keep the projects alive in the face of serious impediments by ITNL, which refused to participate in board meetings since February 2012, thereby blocking all attempts to raise the much-needed capital to complete the project.
“As a pioneer of regional aviation in India, RAH understands the need for regional airport infrastructure across India. Its first two projects in Gulbarga and Shimoga would have paved the way for a network of regional airports; unfortunately, both projects have languished for over a year now, in the face of a deadlock created by IL&FS and group,” said Mr. Baveja.
Rahi was granted the lead role to develop, finance and build the two airports through a State government order on February 18, 2010. A share-subscription agreement was signed on March 12, 2010, and Rahi became a 60:40 joint venture between RAH and ITNL.
Till December 2011, Rahi was able to complete two-thirds of the Gulbarga project and a third of the Shimoga project before differences brought progress down to a grinding halt. “We were left with no option but to seek legal recourse. This is a pity as the Gulbarga airport had reached a stage of 74 per cent completion and the Shimoga airport, 32 per cent,” Mr. Baveja said in the release.