Kerala state government has complained that the Centre's decision to hand over management and operation of Trivandrum International Airport to a private bidder is in contravention to the assurance given by the Civil Aviation Ministry to the state in 2003. Adani Group had won the bid for a 50-year lease to manage the airport. The state government will not co-operate with the implementation of the unilateral decision, the state government says.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan sought PM's intervention in the matter and said the civil aviation ministry had assured seven years ago that as and when induction of a private player is considered, Government of India will factor in the contributions made by the state government to the development of the airport.
Kerala has been repeatedly requesting the central government to entrust the management of Trivandrum airport to a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in which state government is the major stakeholder. The letter to Modi said that the state government had earlier transferred 23.57 acres to the Airport Authority of India free of cost for construction of the international terminal, subject to the condition that the value of the land would be reflected as state government's share capital in an SPV which would be set up.
The state government has claimed that it has proven experience in successfully managing and operating airports in Kochi and Kannur, which the private bidder lacks. The government had also requested delinking Trivandrum airport from the proposal to operate in PPP mode or allow the SPV of the state government to have the right to first refusal in order to match the quote of the highest bidder. None of these have been considered, the letter complained.
Vijayan also pointed out that the central government's decision has come at a time when the Kerala High Court is considering a litigation in this connection as directed by the Supreme Court. "In view of the unilateral decision taken by Government of India without giving credence to the cogent arguments put forward by the state government, it will be difficult for us to offer co-operation to the implementation of the decision, which is against the wishes of the people of the state," the letter said.
On August 19, the Union Cabinet approved the leasing of three AAI airports namely, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram for Operation, Management and Development to Adani Enterprises Ltd, the successful bidder, for a period of 50 years.