Kisan Mahasabha describes Delhi airport privatisation as a “lose, lose” initiative

With the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on “Implementation of public- private partnership at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi” pointing to valuation of the commercial rights of land at just Rs.24,000 crore when the potential earning capacity was Rs.1,63,557 crore, the Kisan Mahasangh, which has been spearheading the agitation by farmers whose land was acquired for the airport, has described the privatisation as a “lose, lose” initiative.

Mahasangh co-convener Colonel Devinder Sehrawat said it was not only the farmers who had lost out in the bargain as their lands were acquired cheap but then handed over at a pittance to the airport operator, the passengers and even commuters to the airport have been spending extra due to the high airport development fee and the charges imposed on taxi operators by the airport authorities.

“The passengers have to pay airport development fees approved by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in February 2009, in contravention of the provisions of Article 13.1 of Operation Management and Development Agreement, OMDA as later confirmed by Delhi High Court. This decision to levy the development fee after the effective date has vitiated the sanctity of the bidding process,” he said.

Noting that this development fee has pushed up the flying costs of the airlines and consequently the air fares, Mr. Sehrawat said the CAG report has exposed the whole gamut of operations which the Mahasangh had been alleging all this while.

He said the CAG has now criticised the levy of development fee on passengers using the Delhi airport and observed that the Civil Aviation Ministry had violated the bid conditions to benefit Delhi International Airport Limited by over Rs. 3,415 crore through the move.

Expensive travel

He said as per the CAG report this has significantly pushed up the air fares of flights operating to and out of Delhi. While for domestic passengers the hike has been between Rs. 220 to Rs. 520, for the international passengers it is even steeper at between Rs. 490 and Rs. 1,200.

Moreover, Mr. Sehrawat said all the passengers or commuters availing of radio taxis at the airport are also being forced to shell out Rs. 80 extra per trip as the airport authorities have imposed a charge amount of like amount for these.

Apart from this the farmer leader said all the food and beverage services at the airport have also become very expensive in the recent past and all this has put a lot of strain on the passengers and others visiting the Delhi airport.

Mr. Sehrawat said the farmers, whose land was acquired for as little as Rs. 4 per square yard in South West Delhi way back in 1955 for undertaking planned development, now want higher compensation as they want to partake in the profits accruing from its transfer by the Government.

The Mahasangh represents farmers of Mahipalpur, Nangal Dewat and Rangpuri villages near the airport who have been fighting legal battles for enhanced compensation for decades now.

  • “Hike for domestic passengers: Rs.220 to 520; for international passengers: Rs.490 and 1,200”

  • “Levying development fee after the effective date vitiated the sanctity of the bidding process”