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Tripartite panel on airports revamp meets

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 16: The tripartite committee that was formed to end a four-day agitation by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) workers in early February met today for the first time but no dramatic results came out of it.

The committee is looking into the issue of modernising Delhi and Mumbai airports, and the consequent effect on AAI workers. It is supposed to re-look at all proposals given by employees to modernise airports.

The next meeting will be held on March 22.

The decision to form a tripartite committee, which has representation from the ministry of civil aviation, the AAI and the AAI Joint Workers Forum (AAIJWF), was taken after a meeting with prime minister Manmohan Singh who had to intervene to end the impasse at airports across the country.

Convenor of the AAIJWF M K Ghoshal said the government will come back next week with clarifications on the report of a review panel which had considered the alternative plan submitted by AAI workers for restructuring Delhi and Mumbai airports.

The committee has already come under fire from Left parties which say that it should have met earlier and is just soft peddling the government's interests. The non-convening of committee meeting recently prompted general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Prakash Karat to write to the prime minister, urging the government to put in abeyance its decision to hand over the Delhi and Mumbai airports to private parties till the report of the committee is finalised.

The government has selected a consortium headed by the GMR group to modernise the Delhi airport while a consortium headed by the GVK group has been shortlisted for modernising the Mumbai airport.

Both consortia have submitted Rs 500 crore enhanced bid bond to the AAI.

Meanwhile, Reliance Airport Developers has moved the Delhi High Court alleging that the government changed selection process midway, which prevented the Anil Ambani-led company from bagging the contract for Delhi airport despite quoting the highest gross revenue share with the AAI. The matter is still pending.

The government wants to revamp the two airports in its bid to upgrade infrastructure to international standards capable of keeping pace with a booming economy.

AAI union leaders say the profit-making public sector organisation is capable of modernising 35 airports across the country -- besides those in Delhi and Mumbai -- through its resources and expertise.


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