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A file photo of runway at Trivandrum Airport. (@AAITVMAIRPORT/Twitter)
A file photo of runway at Trivandrum Airport. (@AAITVMAIRPORT/Twitter)

Reconsider handing Trivandrum airport to Adani Group: Kerala government tells Modi

  • In a letter addressed to Narendra Modi, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that it will be difficult for the state government to offer cooperation for the implementation of the decision

NEW DELHI : The Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI (M)-led state government of Kerala has asked the central government to reconsider its decision to award the state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) operated Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) airport to Adani Enterprises Ltd on a 50-year-lease.

The Southern state's chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that the central government's decision was in contravention to the assurances given by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) in 2003, which stated that the central government would factor in the contributions made by the state government for the development of the Trivandrum airport.

"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 cooperation to the implementation of the decision, which is against the wishes of the people of the state," Vijayan said in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister.

A copy of the letter dated 19 August has been reviewed by Mint.

The Narendra Modi-led central government had on Wednesday cleared the award of airports at Jaipur, Trivandrum and Guwahati for redevelopment to Adani Enterprises Ltd.

The three airports will be leased for operation, management, and development in public-private partnership (PPP) model to Adani Enterprises, the successful bidder in a global competitive bidding last year, for 50 years, according to a government statement.

"The pertinent point raised by the state government is that it has proven experience in successful management and operations of airports in Kochi and Kannur, which the private bidder lack," Vijayan said in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister.

"We had requested delinking the Trivandrum International Airport from the proposal to operate in PPP (public-private partnership) mode or allow the SPV (special purpose vehicle) of the state government to have the right to first refusal in order to match the quote of the highest bidder. None of these has been considered," Vijayan added.

In the letter, Vijayan said that it was the state government which had earlier transferred 23.57 acres of land to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for free of cost for the construction of an international terminal at the Trivandrum airport, subject to the condition that the value of the land would be reflected as Kerala government's share capital in a SPV, which would be set up.

Separately, Elamaram Kareem, a member of parliament and leader of CPI (M) in Rajya Sabha has asked the civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri to withdraw the decision to hand over the management and operation of Trivandrum International Airport to Adani Enterprises.

In a letter addressed to Puri, dated 20 August, Kareem asked the minister to urgently withdraw "the unilateral decision taken by the Central Government to handover the management of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport to private hands and do the needful for entrusting its operations to the SPV of the State Government at the earliest."

A copy of the letter has been reviewed by Mint.

When contacted an Adani Group spokesperson was not immediately available for comments. A MoCA spokesperson didn't offer comments.

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