Modi government flouted rules, favoured Gautam Adani to lease out six airports to his firm allege CPM MP Elamaram Kareem
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, the Adani Group had inked agreements with AAI for the management, operations, and development of Ahmedabad, Mangaluru, and Lucknow airports in February this year.
The concession period is 50 years from the commercial operation date, Adani Enterprises had said in a filing to the stock exchanges.
Apart from Ahmedabad, Mangaluru, and Lucknow, the Adani Group also won the bid for the management, operations, and development of Jaipur, Guwahati, and Thiruvananthapuram airports last year.
With the mandate to run six airports, Adani Group will become the third-largest private airport operator in terms of passengers handled, after the GMR group and GVK group in the country.
In a letter to Central Vigilance Commission, Elamaram alleged that the whole process was vitiated with gross irregularities.
Elamaram said “Handing over of six airports to Adani Enterprises for a period of 50 years is in complete violation of AAI Act, 1994 which says no airport can be leased out to any private player for more than 30 years.”
He also alleged The Ministry of Civil Aviation showed undue urgency to complete the transaction before February 28, 2020, paving the way for Adani Enterprises to win the bid.
Also he said “Major airport players were kept away from the bidding process due to the unnecessary time constraints put by the Modi government controlled ministry ”
“Airport Authority of India (AAI) did not compare the quotes of Adani Enterprises with the ‘Existing Per passenger Fee’ to ascertain how profitable the bid was.” he allege
Also he said ” The Project Report submitted to Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC) is inconclusive and the AAI did not study the project carefully before leasing out the airports”
Operation and Management clauses were not applied before handing over the airports to Adani Enterprises which is mandatory to gauge the operational abilities of the bidder.
He further said ” All the six airports leased out to Adani Enterprises are in the heart of cities and the scope of getting revenues from non-aeronautical businesses is very high.
However, the Ministry did not put any obligation in this regard. These astonishing allegations pertaining to the leasing out of six airports to Adani Enterprises were flagged by CPM MP Elamaram Kareem who was in news for his suspension from Rajya Sabha during the process to pass the contentious farm bills last month.
Pointing out towards “gross irregularities” and “blind favouritism” in leasing out six airports to Gautam Adani’s firm, Kareem said that “neither AAI nor the Ministry of Civil Aviation exercised any reasonable care and prudence”.
Demanding action, Kareem in the first week of September shot off a letter to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) a statutory body established in 1964 to look into governmental corruption.
“Most of the vital financial parameters in the bid document including the Total Project Cost, Minimum Bid Value etc. were kept open, giving a free hand to the private player to shape the contract in their fashion,” reads the letter written by Kareem.
“Financial irregularities are so grave that the matter needs to be investigated by highest investigating agencies,” added Kareem.
However only 13 days later, the CVC forwarded the letter to the Ministry of Civil Aviation with a note which reads, “The complaint along with its enclosures is forwarded to CVO, Ministry of Civil Aviation for necessary action”.