M A I N   N E W S

Govt awards bids for Delhi, Mumbai airports
Reliance unhappy; Mumbai airport staff begins stir
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
Even as employees of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) decided to go on strike from tomorrow in a bid to paralyse the airports, the government today went ahead with the modernisation programme awarding the contract for the Delhi and Mumbai airports to the consortiums of GMR-Fraport and GVK-South Africa, respectively.

In a bid to ensure smooth services at all the civil airports across the country, the government also asked the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to help out by putting the Indian Air Force (IAF) on alert for running all the services, including the Air Traffic Control.

Meanwhile, a late night PTI report from Mumbai said more than 2,500 Airport Authority of India employees went on an indefinite strike at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport here today demanding that government stop privatisation of Mumbai and Delhi airports.

There were also protests from the bidders after the bids were awarded, who said that the process had been changed midway. Anil Ambani’s Reliance Airport Developers lashed out at the bid process, saying changes in tender conditions hours before the final decision were ‘untenable’.

Immediately after the financial bids for the Rs 5,400 crore airport modernisation projects at Delhi and Mumbai were opened, a Reliance spokesperson said: “To our utter shock and surprise, substantial changes to the published tender conditions have been telephonically communicated, in strange circumstances, barely two hours before opening of financial bids.

After the eGoM in the evening which took the final decision on the bids which were opened in the morning, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said that the proposals of the two cortia have been approved. They will now be placed before the Cabinet tomorrow and a decision would be taken tomorrow itself.

Giving the details of the decision, Mr Patel said that GMR-Fraport combine had matched the highest bidder Reliance-ASA for the Delhi airport by offering 45.99 per cent revenue share to the government. For Mumbai, GVK-South Africa offered 38.7 per cent revenue share.

Even though GMR-Fraport was the second highest financial bidder for the modernisation of the two metro airports, with an investment of about Rs 5,400 crore, it matched the top bidder as it was the sole technically qualified bidder among the five aspirants for Delhi and six for Mumbai airports.

Reliance had emerged as the highest financial bidder for Delhi airport with 45.99 per cent revenue share and is amongst the two highest technically ranked bidders for both airports.

Meanwhile, the employees union of the AAI decided to strike work from tomorrow in protest against the government’s decision and said that all services at the airports would be affected.

As a result, the IAF has been put on alert and asked to maintain all services in the event of emergency. Sources in the MoD said that Civil Aviation Ministry had requested the ministry for assistance for providing crash, fire fighting and rescue services in case of strike by the union at all the 20 civil airports.

The IAF has also kept ATC, communication, radar operations and technicians on short-notice standby to man the facilities at these 20 airports in case of disruption.

The government has also made elaborate security arrangements at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan, the headquarters of the Civil Aviation Ministry.

There were also reports that some of the consortia were also looking at writing to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh against the process. 

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