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Left urges PM to stall airports’ privatisation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 23
The Left today urged the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to "stall" the privatisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports and consider the "alternative proposal" submitted by airport employees.

"Such a move, in our position, is in violation of the CMP", which stipulated that generally profit-making companies would not be privatised, MPs led by CPI(M) leader Nilotpal Basu, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, said in a letter to Mr Manmohan Singh.

Asserting that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) was consistently making profits and had a reserve of over Rs 2,300 crore, they said "the lack of transparency of purpose, as evident from contradictory statements of the Civil Aviation Ministry on the issue, has shrouded the whole process with mystery and suspicion".

Urging the Prime Minister to start discussion on the "alternative proposal" submitted to him by the AAI employees, they said "the sudden decision" to involve private domestic airlines as equity participants in the proposed joint venture "is a glaring instance of such non-transparency". The other signatories were Mr Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc), Mr Manoj Bhattacharya and Mr Abani Roy (RSP) and Mr Dipankar Mukherjee (CPM).

The AAI Employees Joint Forum had submitted an "alternate plan" to the Prime Minister stating that the AAI had in 1996 presented a feasibility report for development of the Delhi and Mumbai airports to the Vajpayee government, which decided to privatise these instead.

The Forum said the AAI Board had also invited Expressions of Interest (EoIs) from firms and consortia to provide architectural and engineering services and was also understood to have approved the selection of firms or consortia, before the government reconsidered its decision in May, 2003.

"It would, therefore, not be difficult for the AAI to go ahead with its proposal of limited design competition for these terminals", it said.

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