The Kerala government has opposed the Union Cabinet’s approval on August 19 (Wednesday) to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani Enterprises through public-private partnership (PPP).
Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday said that the Kerala government didn’t qualify in Thiruvananthapuram airport’s bidding process that was carried out in a transparent manner. The Kerala government has opposed the Union Cabinet’s approval on August 19 (Wednesday) to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani Enterprises through public-private partnership (PPP) for a period of 50 years.
The Cabinet on August 19 had approved the proposal for leasing out three airports- Jaipur, Guwahati, and Thiruvananthapuram – of Airports Authority of India (AAI) through Public-Private Partnership (PPP). Earlier, the Narendra Modi government had decided to privatize 12 airports of the AAI. The decision on privatisation of six airports of Ahmadabad, Mangalore, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, and Jaipur have already been taken in the first phase.
Adani Group got all these airports through the highest bid in the bidding process, as the Group had signed the concessionaire agreement with the AAI for three airports – Ahmedabad, Mangaluru, and Lucknow – on February 14, 2020, and for the other three airports, it is yet to sign the concessionaire agreement.
Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, Puri spoke about the airport’s 2019 privatisation process, “Winning bid quoted Rs 168 per passenger, KSIDC (Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation) quoted Rs 135 per passenger and third qualifying bidder was at Rs 63 per passenger.”
Per passenger fee was the criteria for the bidding process that was conducted in early 2019 for six airports – Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Mangalore, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram. Adani Enterprises turned out to be the highest bidder for these six airports.
Before the bidding process, the Centre and the Kerala government had agreed that if the KSIDC’s bid comes within the 10 per cent range of the winning bid, it would be awarded the airport, Puri said. However, since the difference between Adani’s bid and KSIDC’s bid was 19.64 per cent during the bidding process, the former was qualified as the winner.
“Thus, despite special provision of RoFR (right of first refusal) being given to GoK (Government of Kerala), they could not qualify in the international bidding process carried out in a transparent manner,” Puri stated.
The Kerala government on Thursday called an all-party meeting to discuss and protest against the Centre’s decision to hand over of the management and operation of the Thiruvananthapuram airport to the Adani group.
“Thiruvananthapuram airport privatised to Adani rejecting the claim of Kerala govt, even after offer to match Adani’s rate. PMO’s promise to accept Kerala proposal broken. People of Kerala will not accept this act of brazen cronyism. #Airportprivatisation,” State Finance Minister Dr Thomas Isaac tweeted on Thursday.
In February 2019, Adani Enterprises was declared the winner for all six airports as it was the highest bidder. In July 2019, the Union Cabinet approved the proposal for leasing out three of them – Ahmedabad, Mangalore and Lucknow – to the Ahmedabad-based company.
Eight months after the Cabinet approval, Adani Enterprises signed the concessionaire agreement with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on February 14 this year for operation, management and development of these three airports.
In June this year, the AAI gave three more months to the Ahmedabad-based company to take over the management of these three airports due to the COVID-19 situation. This means the deadline for takeover has been pushed from August 12 to November 12.