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Privatisation of Thiruvananthapuram airport: Kerala govt calls for all-party meeting

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Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 20: The Kerala government on Thursday called an all-party-meeting to discuss and protest against the Centre's decision to hand over of the management and operation of the Thiruvananthapuram airport to the Adani group. The meeting called by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will be held at 4 pm today and will be through video conferencing, a statement from the CMO said.

Pinarayi Vijayan

On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet had 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 in February 2019. Vijayan has already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention and to reconsider the decision as it would be "difficult" for the state to cooperate.

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The State's repeated requests to entrust the airport management with the special purpose vehicle (SPV) in which the state government is the major stakeholder was also ignored, Vijayan had stated.

"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 cooperation to the implementation of the decision, which is against the wishes of the people of the State," Vijayan said in the letter.

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    The ruling Left and the opposition Congress have also come out against the Centre over its decision to lease out three airports to the Adani group, accusing it of privatising all PSUs while the country was battling COVID-19.

    "Thiruvananthapuram airport privatised to Adani rejecting the claim of Kerala govt, even after offer to match Adani's rate. PMO's promise to accept Kerala proposal broken. People of Kerala will not accept this act of brazen cronyism. #Airportprivatisation," State Finance Minister Dr Thomas Isaac tweeted on Thursday.

    Opposition Congress Leader Ramesh Chennithala said "the dictatorial act" cannot be allowed and "must be resisted". "The Union Government's decision to award operations of Trivandrum Airport to Adani Group on a 50-year lease amidst the COVID crisis is a deplorable move.

    The airport is the state's property, and must not be privatised," he tweeted. "The decision to go for PPP mode despite state govt's readiness to operate and manage the airport shows how the Central Govt is trying to use the COVID pandemic to hand over all PSUs to the private sector," Chennithala said in another tweet.

    KPCC President Mullappally Ramachandran said the move to privatise the airport was "deplorable". "We need to protest in order to force the centre to withdraw this decision. None of us need to be in the payroll of these corporate giants," he said on Thursday.

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