Civil Aviation Ministry to consider alternative plan proposed by staff
Financial bids on modernisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports not to be opened without taking employees into confidenceJanuary 31 deadline for selecting private parties may pass
NEW DELHI: Employees of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on Friday were able to extract an assurance from the AAI management that the financial bids of private parties on the proposed modernisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports would not be opened without taking them into confidence.
The assurance was given to the employees holding a demonstration outside the Civil Aviation Ministry headquarters here by AAI chairman K. Ramalingam and AAI Board member V.D.V. Prasad Rao, who also said the bids would not be opened before Sunday.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel had been saying that the private parties would be selected for the Delhi and Mumbai airports by January 31.
Threat of strike
The AAI Employees' Joint Forum has threatened to go on a flash strike that can disrupt air services. The workers, led by CPI (M) MP Dipankar Mukherjee, CITU president M.K. Pandhe and AAI Employees' Joint Forum convener M.K. Ghoshal, blocked the gates of the Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan for several hours demanding that the modernisation work of these two profit-making airports should be given to the AAI and not to private parties.
The AAI Chairman said the Ministry had also promised that the "alternative plan" for modernisation of the two metro airports, which was submitted by the employees, would be considered.
Mr. Pandhe said if the Government went back on its word and moved ahead with the privatisation process the employees would launch a nationwide agitation. While addressing the AAI employees, Mr. Mukherjee said he had never seen Ministers opening bids as the empowered Group of Ministers was reportedly doing. It was a job of financial and technical experts and not Ministers.
Complaining about the "lack of transparency" in the bidding process, the CPI (M) leader said the workers were fighting for the AAI while the Minister was keen to give away two major airports to private parties, which would slash the AAI's income by half.
"As stakeholders, the workers have a right to know what happened to the alternative plan submitted by them," Mr. Mukherjee said. Four Left parties have demanded that the modernisation work be given to the AAI as it was "fully competent" to do so.