Special Correspondent

Details not known as minutes need to be signed by EGoM chief

All issues resolved, no re-bidding, says Praful PatelFinancial bids to open in a day or twoEGoM held to consider a revised report from the expert committee

NEW DELHI: The process of modernisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports inched forward on Tuesday with the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) deciding to award the contracts for total revamp of the two metro airports by January 31.

The minutes of Tuesday's meeting that reiterated the Government resolve to go ahead with modernisation and restructuring of the two airports through the joint venture route would need to be signed by EGoM Chairman and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, before the details are known.

After the EGoM meeting, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel announced the deadline for the award of contracts for the two projects, estimated to be worth Rs. 5,500 crores.

Mr. Patel rejected a suggestion that there could be re-bidding in view of the valuation controversies.

The Minister said financial bids would be opened in a day or two, adding that the contracts for the two airports would be awarded within the deadline. The EGoM was held to consider a revised report from the expert committee, headed by Delhi Metro Chief E. Sreedhararn, on the basis of a clarification sought by the EGoM earlier this month.

On how many bidders would be shortlisted, Mr. Patel said: ``Let the minutes be finalised and signed by the EGoM Chairman. We have considered all the views that were expressed in the matter, including those of the Committee of Secretaries, the panel led by E. Sreedharan and various others. All issues have been resolved. There will be no re-bidding. The modernisation of both the airports will start. They will be modernised through the joint venture route and final details would be announced shortly.''

The shortlisted bidders would have to form two joint venture companies with the Airports Authority of India for the development of the two airports. Besides Mr. Mukherjee and Mr. Patel, other members of the EGoM are Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and Law Minister H. R. Bhardwaj.

The EGoM decision comes in the wake of opposition by Left parties who have been against the ``privatisation'' process, with the latest development being a letter shot off by Revolutionary Socialist Party leader Abani Roy complaining of lack of transparency in the process.

The Left has asked the Government to put the process on hold and hand over the task to AAI.

The EGoM is understood to have discussed possibilities of broad-basing the criteria for the bid process in the light of the recommendations of the Sreedharan-led Group of Eminent Technical Experts, so as to allow more than one bidder for each of the two metro airports. If the proposal for broad-basing the criterion is adopted, the bids of GMR-Fraport, Reliance-ASA (Mexico), D. S. Construction-Munich Airport and GVK-South African airport are likely to be considered as per the rankings.