Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday sought to present facts with regard to Cabinet's approval of privatising Trivandrum International Airport after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing the inability of the state government to offer co-operation in this regard and urging his intervention "so that the decision is reconsidered."
In a series of tweets, Puri said, "Parallel narratives can be no match for facts. A campaign has been launched against the decision to privatise the Thiruvananthapuram airport. Here are the facts."
"GoI granted "In principle" approval on 08.11.2018 for leasing out the operations, management & development of six AAI Airports viz Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangaluru, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram Airports through PPP mode," Puri tweeted.
He said, "In their representation that followed thereafter on 21.11.2018, GoK requested that Thiruvananthapuram International Airport be delinked from the PPP process. They also cited their experience in development of Greenfield airports at Cochin & Kannur."
"Subsequently, on 4.12.2018 they suggested transfer of Thiruvananthapuram Airport to GoK for operation & management by forming an SPV & offered Right of First Refusal (ROFR) to the SPV of GoK," the Minister said in another tweet.
"Following more discussion on the matter, including a meeting with EGoS, the GoK themselves decided to participate in the process & requested that their participation be based on RoFR. This was agreed upon," he said.
He further said, "It was stipulated that if the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) bid comes within the 10% range of the winning bid, they would be awarded the work. There was a difference of 19.64% between them & the next bidder when bids were open."
"Winning bid quoted Rs168 per passenger, KSIDC quoted Rs135 per passenger & third qualifying bidder was at Rs63 per passenger. Thus, despite special provision of RoFR being given to GoK, they could not qualify in international bidding process carried out in a transparent manner," he said in another tweet.
'They subsequently approached the Hon'ble Kerala High Court & Hon'ble Supreme Court. All these facts are available in the public domain," he added.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing the inability of the state government to offer co-operation in this regard and urged his intervention "so that the decision is reconsidered."
"In view of the unilateral decision taken by the Government of India without giving credence to the cogent arguments put forward by the State Government, it will be difficult for us to offer co-operation to the implementation of the decision, which is against the wishes of the people of the State," read the letter by Vijayan.
"I request your goodself to intervene at this stage so that the decision taken now is reconsidered," he stated.
The Chief Minister said that the Union Cabinet has decided to hand over the management and operation of Trivandrum International Airport to a private bidder ignoring the repeated requests of the Government of Kerala for entrusting the same to the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in which State Government is the major stakeholder.
He said that the present decision is in contravention to the assurance given by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, in 2003.
"The assurance was that as and when induction of a private player is considered, the Government of India would factor in the contributions made by the State Government to the development of the Trivandrum Airport. There was further assurance in this regard when we had a personal meeting in New Delhi," read the letter.
The State Government had earlier transferred 23.57 acres to the Airport Authority of India, free of cost for construction of the international terminal, subject to the condition that the value of the land would be reflected as Government of Kerala's share capital in an SPV which would be set up, he said.
Vijayan said that the state government had requested delinking the Trivandrum International Airport from the proposal to operate in PPP mode or allow the SPV of the State Government to have the right to the first refusal in order to match the quote of the highest bidder.
None of these has been considered, he said.
"In my letter dated June 10, 2020, the request to hand over management and operation of the Trivandrum International Airport to the SPV in which the State Government is the major stakeholder was reiterated. This has not been considered and the present decision has come even while the litigation in this regard is pending before the Hon'ble High Court of Kerala as per the direction of the Hon'ble Supreme Court," read the letter.
On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the proposal for leasing out three airports namely Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram airports of AAI through PPP.
The Cabinet accorded its approval for leasing of three AAI airports namely, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram for Operation, Management and Development to M/s Ad Enterprises Ltd, who is declared as the successful bidder in a Global Competitive Bidding conducted by the Airports Authority of India, for a period of fifty years.
( With inputs from ANI )
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