People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 18

May 18, 2008


Yechury Warns Against Back Door Privatisation Of Airports

Sitaram Yechury, MP and member of Polit Bureau of CPI(M) wrote the following letter to prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh on May 8 on the issue of the Inter Ministerial Group's decision regarding modernisation of 35 non metro airports.

Text of the letter is as follows:

ON April 17, 2007, I had written to you with a degree of anguish on the continued delay in the modernisation of Kolkata and 35 other non-metro airports. The Committee on Infrastructure at its 12th meeting on June 8, 2006 chaired by you had decided that in 35 non-metro airports the Airports Authority of India will undertake the airport side development, including terminal building while the city side development will be undertaken through a public private partnership.

After nearly two years, I am surprised to note that an Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) on the development of non-metro airports met and decided on May 6, 2008 to reverse the decision taken by the Committee on Infrastructure under your chairmanship. This IMG has decided, as per its minutes, the following:-

The scope of work of the project would include commercial operation and maintenance of Terminal Building, development and operations of Cargo and real estate development on the land identified for the purpose. Maintenance of the Terminal Building would include maintenance of the building, equipments and utilities.

On the basis of this decision, I am informed that the Planning Commission has already prepared a Model Concession Agreement for Public Private Partnership for 30 years for the terminal building and 60 years for city side real estate development.

I am sure you will agree with me that this constitutes a complete reversal of the stand taken by your government earlier. This will have serious implications for the current employees of the AAI. Needless to add, this decision, if implemented, will be seen as the government reneging on its earlier commitment concerning the non-privitasation of Kolkata, Chennai and 35 non-metro airports. The credibility of the government will come under question. The request for proposals are to be issued by May 9, 2008.

May I request you to urgently intervene to ensure that this decision of the IMG that contravenes the decision of the Committee on Infrastructure is not implemented. May I also request you to please intervene to end this interminable delay in the process of airport modernization which appears to be due to the fact that certain arms of your government are deliberately delaying the process in order to privatise the modernisation of the airports through the back door.