Congress leader Patel questions Centre giving airport MoU to Singapore firm

New Delhi, Dec.11 (ANI): Congress Party leader Ahmed Patel today charged the BJP-led NDA Government of by passing due process and abruptly selecting a Singapore-based operator to manage the airports at Ahmedabad and Jaipur, instead of retaining the responsibility with the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

In a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju, Patel, who is also the political secretary to party president Sonia Gandhi, said he was surprised by the government’s decision to hand over the operations and management of the above two airports to Changi Airport International vide a Memorandum of Understanding with the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise.

Questioning the government’s decision to abruptly cancel the entire process of competitive bidding for the operation, management and development of the airports at Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chennai and Kolkata, Patel said, “India’s policy on airport infrastructure has encouraged an open, consultative and competitive model of public-private partnership which protects the interests of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and at the same time, promotes private particpation.”

“Hence, I find it surprising that without any explicit change in policy, the government has bypassed due process and has abruptly selected an operator to manage two of India’s most important airports.”

The closed nature in which the government arrived at this crucial decision is beyond reasonable comprehension,” he added.

Patel said the NDA Government has failed to apply a “rigorous test of selecting qualified operators and protecting the interests of the Airports Authority of India.”

He asked on what basis had the government zeroed in on a particualr operator and why did it not consider it fit to evaluate operators other than Changi Airport International?

He also asked that when the AAI was tasked with the responsibility of developing four airports, why was the decision taken to only develop two of them, and that too with the help of a foreign investor.

“Such display of arbitrariness on matters of national importance is baffling,” said Patel.

The Congress leader said that Ahmedabad Airport was one of the nation’s airports that was making profit, and he certainly hoped that the AAI would not experience revenue loss under the new MoU.

“Transparency and accountabaility must be the cornerstone for any policy on public infrastructure and I sincerely hope that the government will take steps to ensure such values are reflected in its policies,” Patel concluded. (ANI)

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