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Kerala CM writes to PM Modi, opposes decision to hand over Trivandrum airport to private bidder

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Kocchi, Aug 19: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, opposing the Union Cabinet's approval to hand over Trivandrum International Airport to a private bidder.

"In view of the unilateral decision taken by the Government of India without giving credence to the cogent arguments put forward by the State government, it will be difficult for us to offer co-operation to the implementation of the decision, which is against the wishes of the people of the State," Vijayan said in a letter to Modi.

Pinarayi Vijayan

"I request your good self to intervene at this stage so that the decision taken now is reconsidered," Vijayan said. He pointed out that the decision was taken "ignoring the repeated requests" of the state government to entrust the management of the airport with the special purpose vehicle (SPV) "in which state government is the major stakeholder".

The chief minister said the Civil Aviation Ministry had in 2003 gave an assurance that as and when the induction of a private player was considered, the Centre would factor in the state government's contribution to the development of the airport.

Cabinet on Wednesday approved the proposal for leasing out airports at Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram through public-private partnership (PPP).

Adani Enterprises had won the rights to run six airports -- Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati through the PPP model after a competitive bidding process last February.

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    In July 2019, the Union Cabinet had approved the proposal for leasing out the other three airports Ahmedabad, Mangaluru and Lucknow Adani Enterprises.

    At a press conference on Wednesday, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Cabinet has approved the proposal for leasing out Jaipur, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram airports through the PPP model. Currently, the six airports are owned and managed by the government-run Airports Authority of India (AAI).

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    Eight months after the Cabinet approval, Adani Enterprises signed the concessionaire agreement with the AAI on February 14 this year for operation, management and development of airports at Ahmedabad, Mangaluru and Lucknow.

    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 taking over has been pushed from August 12 to November 12.

    Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had on Tuesday said that the Ministry of Civil Aviation would place a proposal for "privatisation" of airports before the Union Cabinet on Wednesday.

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