Stop closure of government airports: Yechury

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New Delhi, Mar 5: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport has unanimously opposed closure of Bangalore and Hyderabad airports for commercial operations to make way for commissioning of the private greenfield airport.

It demanded scrapping of the clause in the agreement with the private parties which facilitates closure of the two airports. ''We have recommended that existing airports should be used in such a way that the private player is able to make reasonable profit while the government discharges its responsibilities of maintaining public goods and upholding public interest,''Chairman of the Committee Sitaram Yechury said here. He was addressing a press conference in the Parliament premises soon after the Committee tabled its 131rst Report in the Rajya Sabha today.

Mr Yechury said the Committee felt it was very unfortunate that the government was closing the airports built on the tax payers' money and allowing those built by private players whose sole motive was earning profit rather than service to the passenger.

This, he said, was contrary to the Government policy, particularly in a situation where both the airports were required in view of increasing passenger traffic.

He said the committee felt the Government still had time to renegotiate the issue and modify or scrap the clause which facilitated the closure of existing airports.

The possible revenue implications of such a re-negotiation must not inhibit the government from proceeding on such a course in national interest, he added.
Mr Yechury said the Committee was of the view that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) should also be given adequate opportunities and encourgement in modernising and developing of airports. It should be given all the financial and operational freedom enjoyed by a private venture company for competing with private players, otherwise the concept of 'level playing field' would have no meaning.

It has questioned the Government act in agreeing to the demands of private players in levying of user development fee while rejecting the AAI demand for the same at the rate of Rs 300 per passenger made at the time of taking up the major expansion projects at Ahmedabad and Trivandrum.

The Committee has demanded immediate withdrawal of the user development fee.

Mr Yechury said the panel had also recommended that grievances of the employees of both Hyderabad and Bangalore should be addressed adequately by the government.

The Committee says the Tripartite panel should meet regularly to remove any uneasiness and settle issues agitating the employees of the AAI on various issue.

The Standing Committee has also pulled up the Government for its ''reluctance'' to accept its earlier unanimous recommendations presented to Parliament on the subject without any reason, saying ''this negates the very purpose of the Parliamentary Committee system.''


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