The Union Cabinet has approved a proposal for leasing out three airports through public-private partnership (PPP) for a period of 50 years. The move has been called "daylight robbery" by the LDF government in Kerala.
On August 19, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Cabinet had approved the proposal for leasing out Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram airports through the PPP model.
"The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is not giving these airports permanently to the private operator. After running them for 50 years, the private operator would be handing over the airports back to the AAI," said the minister.
The minister said the AAI would receive Rs 1,070 crore as an upfront amount from the private operator for leasing the three airports and this fund would be used to develop airports in smaller cities.
"Another benefit of leasing these airports is that passengers will get good services," Javadekar noted.
Adani Enterprises had won the rights to run six airports including these three -- the other three being Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Mangalore -- through the PPP model after a competitive bidding process in February 2019.
In July 2019, the Union Cabinet had approved the proposal for leasing out Ahmedabad, Mangalore and Lucknow airports to Adani Enterprises.
Currently, all the aforementioned six airports are owned and managed by the government-run AAI.
The decision did not go well with the LDF government in Kerala and Opposition Congress. They lashed out at the Centre over its decision to lease out three airports, including the one in Kerala, to the Adani group and charged it with privatising all Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) while the country was battling COVID-19.
Terming the decision as "daylight robbery", the Kerala government demanded that it be withdrawn. Congress too made a similar demand and said the airport belongs to the state.
The Kerala government also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and reconsider the handing over of the management and operation of the Thiruvananthapuram airport to the Adani group, saying it would be "difficult" for the state to cooperate in implementing the decision.(With inputs from PTI)