The Congress party has come out against the decision by Modi government to privatise 20-25 airports in coming days. In a statement on Sunday, the party claimed that the Centre neglected recommendations by Finance Ministry and Niti Aayog in the previous phase of airport privatisation. It also expressed its reservation over privatised airports being kept out of the purview of Airports Authority of India (AAI).
"Last week the government amended the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Act of 2008, wherein all such airports which the operators got, based on predetermined fee will be out of the purview of the Airports Authority of India. This means that all 5 airports handed over to the Adani Group, will have virtually no government control for the next 50 years," the Congress said in a statement released on Sunday.
AAI Chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra announced on Friday that the Central government is planning to privatise 20-25 airports in the second phase, with an expectation that there will be significant participation by foreign airports. A few months ago, the AAI handed over six major airports to private parties in the first phase of privatisation. The Gautam Adani-led Adani Group got five of them.
Congress claimed that 109 out of 123 airports in India are suffering losses. "Of the 14 profit-making airports, 5 have been handed over to the Adani group," the opposition party said in its statement.
"Finance ministry had recommended not to award the same company more than two airports out of 6 airports that were to be privatised. The government's PPP Appraisal Committee (PPPAC) ignored this recommendation. Another suggestion made by the Department Economic Affairs and the Niti Ayog was the requirement of prior experience in Operation and Management and also providing the total project cost upfront for each of the airports to be privatised," Congress said.
The Congress party also spoke against the government's decision to levy aviation security fees from air passengers. From July 1, hiked aviation security fees to Rs 150 and $4.85 for domestic and international flights, respectively.
"Therefore, we see the concerns raised by the DEA, as also the recommendations of Niti Aayog were ignored to compromise on the interest of the passengers," the Congress party said.