Ahmebabad, Dec 11 (IANS) Congress leader Ahmed Patel has challenged the central government’s decision to hand over the operations and management of the Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports to a Singapore firm.
Patel has written to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajathan Raju questioning the move to award the operations to Changi Airport International through a MoU with Singapore Corporation Enterprise, signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Singapore visit last month.
Patel, a Rajya Sabha and political adviser to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, pointed out that an entire process to decide the operators to manage India’s key airports had been given a go-by in this case.
The letter, also distributed to the media, says: “Surprisingly, on August 20, the government decided to abruptly cancel the entire process of competitive bidding for the operation, management and development of Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chennai and Kolkata airports and subsequently via a government-to-government MoU decided to award the same mandate to a foreign operator for Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports.
“India’s policy on airport infrastructure has encouraged an open, consultative and competitive model of public private partnership which protects the interest of the Airport Authority of India and at the same time promotes private participation.
“I find it surprising that without any explicit change in policy, the government bypassed due process and has abruptly selected an operator to manage two of India’s most important airports.”
Patel went on: “The closed nature in which the government arrived at this crucial decision is beyond reasonable comprehension.”
The Congress leader recalled that the successful redevelopment of the Delhi and Mumbai airports was based on a competitive clean bidding process.
“Rather than applying a rigorous test of selecting qualified operators and protecting the interest of Airports Authority of India, I fail to understand on what basis has the government zeroed on a particular operator?
“While Singapore can boast of an efficient airport, so do many other countries. Did the government deem fit to evaluate even those operators before awarding the mandate to Changi Airport International?”
Patel also wanted to know why only two airports were chosen for this venture.
“Ahmedabad is one of India’s few profitable airports, and I sincerely hope that the new arrangement causes no revenue loss to Airports Authority of India.”