Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has come out in defence of the government's move to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani Enterprises in PPP (Public Private Partnership mode) for 50 years. Puri defended the Centre's move after the Kerala government opposed its decision.
The minister, in a series of tweets, said that the "parallel narratives can be no match for facts" adding that "a campaign has been launched against the decision to privatise the Thiruvananthapuram airport."
Detailing the complex process, Puri articulated that "it was stipulated that if the Kerela State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) bid comes within the 10 per cent range of the winning bid, they would be awarded the work." However, there was a variance of 19.64 per cent between the KSIDC and the next bidder when bids were open, he added.
Further chronicling the specifics of how the contract was awarded to Adani Enterprises, Puri enunciated that the "winning bid quoted ? 168 per passenger, KSIDC quoted ? 135 per passenger and third qualifying bidder was at ? 63 per passenger." He informed that although the special provision of RoFR (Right of First Refusal) was given to the Kerala government, "they could not qualify in international bidding process carried out in a transparent manner."
The Aviation Minister expressed that the state (Kerala) government subsequently moved the Kerala High Court and Supreme Court and "all these facts are available in the public domain."
Meanwhile, the left government in the state, as well as the Congress-led United Democratic Front, have objected to the privatisation. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had, on Wednesday, written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting the Centre to rethink its decision to privatise the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.
Vijayan further stated in his letter that the (Centre's) decision overlooked Kerala government's numerous pleas that the airport's operations and management be transferred to a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in which the state dispensation is a major stakeholder.
Meanwhile, endorsing the Central government's decision, Congress MP Sashi Tharoor called the move "competitive". Thiruvananthapuram falls in his constituency.
Taking to Twitter, Tharoor voiced, "this thread is quite accurate. GoK (government of Kerala) chose to participate in the bidding, under rules they agreed, and after losing in the fair process, started questioning the very game they had chosen to play. What really matters is the interests of the travellers of Thiruvananthapuram, not the government's".
The Centre had, on Wednesday, approved the award of airports at Guwahati, Jaipur and Trivandrum for redevelopment to Adani Enterprises Ltd.
The three airports will be leased for development, operation and management in the PPP mode to Adani Enterprises, which emerged as a successful bidder in a globally competitive bidding held last year, for 50 years, as per a government statement.
In February last year, Adani Enterprises bagged a contract to run six airports in the country after it emerged as the highest bidder.
The Centre had, in July 2019, given its nod to the proposal for leasing out three of them - Ahmedabad, Lucknow, and Mangalore - to Adani Enterprises.