The state government owned Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), which participated in the bid to operate the international airport in Thiruvananthapuram, has moved the State High Court against the Airports Authority of India's decision to award the airport to the Adani group. The court, which considered the petition demanding a stay, on Thursday, said progress of the bidding process, will be temporary and subject to final decision of the court.
Further, the ruling party CPI-M is also planning an agitation against 'privatising' the airport.
Reportedly, KSIDC told the court that the entire tender process, which allowed for companies which had no prior experience in airport management, was 'arbitrary, unreasonable and in violation of all principles of fairness and natural justice'.
The bid was won by the Adani Group on Tuesday, quoting a Rs 168 per passenger fee, much higher than KSIDC's Rs 135 and GMR's Rs 63 per passenger.
The State Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has already expressed doubts over the bid given to the Adani Group, a new entrant into the airport maintenance segment without any previous experience, winning five out of six airports selected for privatisation.
Government sources say they will not sign the 'state support agreement', like the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government's decision not to sign the state support agreement when the Kolkata airport was planned for privatisation a year ago.
The bid norms, which earlier had said about 'first right of refusal' to the home state, was in the final hour changed to 10 per cent above the bidding price. The bid norms were changed in the last hour to favour Adani, they allege.
Kerala Government's plan was to float a public-private special purpose vehicle to run the airport, similar to the successful model of the Kochi International airport, run by CIAL Ltd (Cochin International Airport Ltd.).
Unlike most other airports which are in the suburbs of cities, the Thiruvananthapuram airport is right in the middle of the city near the seashore at Shanghumukham. The airport was developed by the Travancore Kings and after independence was handed over to the Government.
About 20 kilometres from the airport, the Adani Group is also constructing a mega sea port at Vizhinjam, scheduled to be commissioned by 2020.