Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said he would take up the issue of private participation in Thiruvananthapuram airport operations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when visits Delhi for the NITI Aayog meeting on June 15.
Replying to calling attention by C. Divakaran of the CPI, on Thursday, to the infrastructure major Adani Enterprises, the successful bidder, taking over the airport, he said: “the airport is not going from our hands.”
He claimed there was a condition while transferring 23.57 acres in 2005 for the new international terminal that if it gets corporatised, the cost of the land should be converted into equity. Moreover, in 2003, the civil aviation secretary had given a written assurance that the state would be consulted before any private participation.
It was built in 1932 on 258.06 acres of land owned by the princely state of Travancore given free.
The state formed a special purpose vehicle under KSIDC called Trivandrum International Airport Limited (TIAL) to take part in the bid as it got the right of first refusal.
However, that was limited to 10 per cent, but the Adanis bagged the award by quoting a much higher share per passenger to the Airport Authority of India.
There was an absence of a prior experience clause in the tender document.
“There is suspicion on the fact that Adani Group, without any experience in airport development, won six bids,” Mr Vijayan said.
Dr Shashi Tharoor, the local MP, had the other day reiterated his support for private participation.
“All of us who care for Thiruvananthapuram want a well-functioning international airport, whether it’s run by Adani, Ambani or Karl Marx!” he tweeted.
“We might protect the rights of airport workers but not surrender to ideology.”