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Kerala Assembly passes 'unanimous resolution' opposing Trivandrum airport lease

Though the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, supported the resolution against privatisation of the airport, he slammed the government saying it had "double standards" on the issue

twitter-logoPTI | August 24, 2020 | Updated 15:04 IST
Kerala Assembly passes 'unanimous resolution' opposing Trivandrum airport lease
Chennithala also wanted to know why CIAL (Cochin International Airport Ltd), the airport company had not been appointed as consultant

The Kerala Assembly Monday passed a "unanimous resolution" demanding the withdrawal of Union Cabinet's decision to lease out the international airport here to Adani Enterprises Ltd. Moving the resolution, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the Centre should re-examine its decision and the operation and management of the airport be handed over to the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in which the state government has stake.

Despite the state government agreeing to give the amount quoted by Adani Enterprises, the Centre's decision to privatise the airport cannot be justified, he said. Though the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, supported the resolution against privatisation of the airport, he slammed the government saying it had "double standards" on the issue.

He said the government attacked the Adani group in public, but had secretly helped them by consulting a law firm close to it and alleged that there was a "criminal conspiracy". Chennithala also wanted to know why CIAL (Cochin International Airport Ltd), the airport company had not been appointed as consultant.

Also read: Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri explains why Adani Group got Kerala airport lease

"A conspiracy has been held to help the Adani group," Chennithala alleged and said, "Keeping in mind the state's interests, the Opposition is supporting the motion and we agree with the spirit of the resolution." When the chief minister stood up to speak again, the opposition benches raised voice in protest.

Vijayan said the state government's stand on the airport is an "open book". The firm had only done "legal vetting" and had no role in deciding the amount quoted by the state in the bidding process, he said. After the brief discussion, Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan declared that the "resolution has been passed unanimously".

However, the BJP, which had organised a protest outside the Assembly demanding the chief minister's resignation in the gold smuggling case, alleged the resolution was not "unanimous" as their lone representative in the House, O Rajagopal was "not allowed to speak". "But, we are with the people of the state in the airport matter," BJP state chief K Surendran told the media.

Also read: Kerala opposes Trivandrum airport transfer to Adani group, 'will not cooperate'

Police, meanwhile, removed the BJP workers who squatted in front of the Assembly gate in protest. The all-party meeting called by the Chief minister on August 20 had decided to move a resolution against the Centre's decision and to demand its withdrawal. Vijayan had twice written to the Prime Minister seeking the withdrawal of the decision. The Centre had decided to lease out airports at Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram through public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

Adani Enterprises had won the rights to run six airports--Lucknow, Ahmedabad,Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Gywahati through the PPP model after a competitive bidding process in February 2019.

Also read: Cabinet approves leasing out of Jaipur, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram airports to Adani Group

Also read: DGCA to inspect airports hit by heavy rains after Kerala plane crash

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