Congress questions Centre’s airport privatisation process

Why was Adani group given five airports, asks the party.

July 29, 2019 12:30 am | Updated 12:30 am IST - NEW DELHI

The international departure terminal at the Chennai airport.

The international departure terminal at the Chennai airport.

The Congress on Sunday attacked the Union government over its airport privatisation process and alleged that the Adani group was being favoured in the entire exercise.

The party made the charge after The Hindu reported on how the government had ignored the key recommendations of the NITI Aayog and the Finance Ministry that suggested a cap on the number of airports to be handed over to a single company and consideration of their prior experience in handling airport operations.

“There are 123 airports in the country operational today, and of these, only 14 are making profits. All the other airports are incurring a loss. Out of these 14 airports, five have been given to the Adani group,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said at a press conference.

The highest bidder

After a bidding process conducted by the Airports Authority of India, Adani Enterprises Limited emerged as the highest bidder.

Mr. Khera said that though the Adani group might have emerged as the highest bidder in the tendering process, the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) of the Finance Ministry had recommended a cap.

“During the UPA regime, one company, GMR, had qualified for both Delhi and Mumbai, but it was decided that one group will not be given more than one airport. Here too, the DEA had suggested that no company be given more than two airports,” he said.

“The recommendations of the NITI Aayog and the DEA were set aside. We want to know why,” he said.

The Congress spokesperson also alleged that the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) refused to either to work out the total projected cost of these airports or look at prior experience of bidders.

“In effect, for next 50 years the government will have no control over these five airports as the Adani group will take over,” Mr Khera said and added,“One by one, each condition placed to ensure protection of consumer interests were rejected”.

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