Kerala Govt Files Plea Against Trivandrum Airport Lease to Adani

Union Cabinet accorded its approval for leasing out the Guwahati, Jaipur and Thiruvananthapuram airports.

3 min read
Union Cabinet accorded its approval for leasing out the Thiruvananthpuram airport.

Kerala government has filed a plea in High Court seeking a stay on the Centre’s decision to hand over lease operations of the Thiruvananthpuram airport to Adani Enterprises Limited for the next 50 years.

According to an ANI report, the Union Cabinet accorded its approval for leasing out three airports — Guwahati, Jaipur and Thiruvananthapuram, for management, maintenance, and development to the Adani Group Ltd which was declared as the successful bidder in a global competitive bidding conducted by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

What’s Kerala Govt’s Stand?

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in a letter to the Centre, alleged that the government ignored Kerala’s special purpose vehicle (SPV) with the state as the majority shareholder.

  • Vijayan had earlier met the PM for an opportunity to bid for the airport through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) created by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation.
  • Kerala government's bid for Thiruvananthapuram airport under PPP was 19.64 percent lower than Adani's winning bid.
  • The Kerala government has made it clear that leasing out the airport, as well as other premises, was not in the interest of the public.

"It will be difficult for Kerala to offer cooperation for the implementation of the decision," Vijayan wrote.

Civil Aviation Ministry's Response

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in his tweet said that “The Union Cabinet has given its go-ahead for awarding the airport to the private party subject to the outcome of Writ Petition & in accordance with provisions of undertaking given by the Concessionaire.”

As per the latest tweets by Puri:

  • The concessionaire will also not demand any damages from AAI.
  • Sovereign functions like customs, security, immigration, plant & animal quarantine, health services, communication & navigation surveillance/air traffic management services will continue to be provided by the government agencies.
  • The airports will come back to AAI after a time period of 50 years.
  • If Kerala govt’s plea leads to cancellation of the bidding process then concessionaire will handover the possession of the airport and will be refunded.
Kerala Govt Files Plea Against Trivandrum Airport Lease to Adani
(Photo: Twitter screenshot)

Earlier, Puri has reiterated the success of the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) model in Kannur which is also situated in Kerala. He cited other examples like the Mumbai, Delhi and even the Kochi airport that successfully operated under the PPP model.

In a statement, the minister said: "If Kerala government is against privatisation, then why did it participate in the bidding process? The state government was given a fair chance and 'Right of First Refusal' (RoFR) if their bid was within 10 per cent below the range of the highest bid.”

"Then they approached the Kerala High Court which dismissed the petition in December 2019. The petitioners then filed an SLP in the Supreme Court. The apex court remitted the matter back to the Kerala High Court. There is no stay in the case either by SC or Kerala High Court.", he added.

Tharoor Draws Criticism

Citing his concerns on the developments around the Thrivananthapuram Airport, Kerala Finance Minister Dr Thomas Issac tweeted saying:

Kerala Govt Files Plea Against Trivandrum Airport Lease to Adani
(Photo: Twitter screenshot)

He also went on to criticise Congress MP Shashi Tharoor for endorsing the Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri explanation on why the Kerala government didn’t qualify for the bidding process and why the lease went to Adani Group.

Citing the state-run “successful model of CIAL in Kochi” Issac asked Tharoor why Adani Group was “indispensable for Thiruvananthapuram?”

Kerala Govt Files Plea Against Trivandrum Airport Lease to Adani
(Photo: Twitter screenshot)

Defending his stance of backing the Centre’s move, Tharoor responded to Kerala’s Finance Minister saying "the point was not revenue" but "expanding the airport's potential".

(Photo: Twitter screenshot)
(Photo: Twitter screenshot)
(Photo: Twitter screenshot)

(With inputs from IANS)

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