CHENNAI: The foundation stone for the Rs. 1,808-crore project for the development and modernisation of the Chennai airport was laid on Monday by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi in the presence of Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel.
Mr. Patel used the occasion to urge the Tamil Nadu government to bring down sales tax on aviation turbine fuel (ATF).
The State government, he pointed out, was charging 29 per cent sales tax on ATF. The Kerala government had brought it down from 29 per cent to 4 per cent and Andhra Pradesh from 25 per cent to 4 per cent.
Referring to a number of incentives given by the State government in attracting industrial investment, the Union Minister wanted the government to give an incentive to the airlines industry too.
However, Mr Karunanidhi did not touch upon the issue of the ATF pricing, but wanted the Union Minister to use his good offices in expediting the implementation of upgrading of projects of other airports in the State.
On tackling the issue of rising prices of essential commodities, the Chief Minister said the purchasing power of people should be improved. Citing his administration’s scheme of selling spices/condiments at Rs.50 a packet through fair price shops, he said he had already briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the scheme and suggested to him that this might be adopted in other States too. Referring to Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K.V. Thangkabalu’s criticism of some observations made by a section of speakers at a rally organised by the Tamil film industry at Rameswaram on Sunday, Mr Karunanidhi said he respected Mr Thangkabalu’s sentiment.
G.K. Vasan, Union Minister, K.N. Nehru, Transport Minister and T.R. Baalu, Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, took part in the function.