In a bid to privatise state-owned airports and allegedly to benefit a well-known corporate house, the Central government has planned to privatise six more airports, NH has learnt.
All six airports that have been listed for the second round of the privatisation – Bhubaneswar, Varanasi, Indore, Trichy, Amritsar and Raipur – will, in all probability, be awarded to the Adani group.
The government has brushed aside the suggestions given by the ministry of finance to allegedly benefit Adani, said sources.
Ministry of Finance had recommended that any company or corporate house will not be awarded more than two airports, but NH has learnt that the Modi government is planning to lift the cap that will pave the way for Adani to win all the six airports after the “bidding”.
Sources claimed that a draft note has already been circulated to the concerned ministries in this regard. And by the first week of December, the Cabinet is expected to approve the proposal. By January 2020, the process is likely to be completed.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) – a statutory body under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, responsible for creating, upgrading, maintaining and managing civil aviation infrastructure in India – has also approved the proposal. According to sources, government has so far has identified 20-25 airports operated by the AAI for the privatisation.
If the Adani group gets all the six airports in this round, it will become the largest group managing and developing airports in India.
In February this year, after a bidding process six airports – Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangalore were awarded to Adani group. All the six airports were leased out for a period of 50 years.
Many including government’s think tank NITI Aayog argued that private entities are better equipped to run/manage airports and it also helps to generate revenues for the AAI also.
However, leaders of the various workers' unions feel that the government’s logic behind the privatisation of airports does not support reality.
Leader of the AITUC (All India Trade Union Congress) Amarjeet Kaur pointed out that the Modi government is on the “sale spree”.
“They are selling off everything from roads to airports to natural resources and profit-making public-sector companies including railways and Bharat Petroleum”.
“All workers unions have protested privatisations of airports including RSS-affiliated Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), but the Modi government did not pay any heed to our protest. It shows that the government’s priority is to benefit their corporate friends, not the common man,” alleged Kaur.