LS adjourned for day after ruckus over closure of 2 airports

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New Delhi, Mr 12 (UNI) The Left party members today forced the Lok Sabha panel Speaker Varkala Radhakrishnan to adjourn the House as they vehemently sought clarification on the Government's decision to close down two airports in Hyderabad and Banalore in view of the new airports about to come up in their place.

Mr Radhakrishnan maintained that it was not the tradition to allow any other discussion once the House took up the discussion on the Budget.

Earlier in the day, the House was adjourned twice on the same issue as the Left-sponsored airport strike was also being observed all over the country on this issue as CPI(M), CPI, AIFB and RSP were opposing the Government's decision of closing these two airports as it would lead to large-scale unemployment at these two airports.

The Left party members were seeking clarification from the Minister of State for Civil Adviation (Independent Charge) Praful Patel why the Ministry wanted to close down the two already running airports since the trial run of the new Greenfield airports was to commence functioning from March 16.

Earlier, Mr Patel made a statement in the House that the Governments of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in the 1990's had approached the Central Government with request to construct Greenfiled airports at Hyderabad and Banqalore respectively. This was due to the traffic growth and the constraints at the existing airports.

He said that in 2000, the task force on infrastructure recommended setting up of new international airports at Bangalore and Hyderabad and closure of the existing airports once the new airports would become operational, Based on the recommendation, the Central Government approved the proposal. This decision was taken so as to ensure financial viability of the new airports.

The State Governments decided to implement the projects through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and selected private partners through international competitive bidding. To implement the projects, Joint Venture Companies were set up with 74 per cent enquity by the private companies and 13 per cent each by the respective Stae Governments and Airport Authority of India (AAI).

The Central government entered into a Concessio9n Agreement with these JVCs in 2004 which entailed obligations of the JVCs regarding the implementation of the projects and required them to construct, develop and maintin the airports as per the standards stipulated in these agreements. On its part, the Centre was obliged to close down all commercial civil aviation operations at the existing airports once the new airports were made operational. The Concession Agreement specified the conseguences of default by each party.

He said the existing airports at Hyderabad and Bangalore would continue to remain operational for general aviation, defence purposes and national emergencies. Further, the interests of the AAI employees at these airports would be fully protected.

Mr Patel said that all reserved activities such as security, immigration, customs and air traffic control would continue to be under the Government control at the new airports.

Earlier, Leader in the Lok Sabha Pranab Mumkerjee told the members that everything was done as per the agreement and there was nothing secretive about this and if any new developments came up, the members would be informed about that.

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