Kerala opposes Centre’s decision on Trivandrum Airport

CM Vijayan said it would be “difficult” for the state to cooperate with the decision to hand over the management of the Trivandrum International Airport to the Adani group

Pinarayi Vijayan
Pinarayi Vijayan said there is nothing in the budget to support those who lost job in the pandemic | File photo: PTI

The Kerala government has taken cudgels against Centre’s decision to hand over the management and operations of the Trivandrum International Airport to the Adani group.

In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said it would be “difficult” for the state to cooperate with the decision.

The letter — The Federal has a copy — said: “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.”

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In the letter, Vijayan requested the prime minister to reconsider the decision.

The Chief Minister said that an assurance given in person by the Prime Minister had been broken. According to the Chief Minister, this “unilateral decision” was taken while the matter was under the consideration of the High Court.

Vijayan alleged that this decision to hand over the airport to Adani is against the assurance given by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 2003. “The assurance was that as and when the induction of a private player is considered, the government of India would factor in the contributions made by the state government to the development of the Trivandrum Airport. There was further assurance in this regard when we (he and Modi) had a personal meeting in New Delhi,” said the letter.

The letter pointed out that the state had earlier transferred 23.57 acres to the Airport Authority of India free of cost for construction of the international terminal, subject to the condition that the value of the land would be reflected as government of Kerala’s share capital in an SPV which would be set up.

In a meeting of the Empowered Group of Secretaries convened by the NITI Aayog on December 4, 2018, representatives of the government of Kerala had explained the extent of public funds spent for acquiring the land that was transferred free of cost.

“The pertinent point raised by the state government is that it has proven experience in successful management and operation of airports in Kochi, Kannur, which the private bidder lacks. We had requested delinking the Trivandrum International Airport from the proposal to operate in PPP mode or allow the SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) of the state government to have the right to first refusal in order to match the quote of the highest bidder. None of these has been considered,” the letter said.

The letter alleged that the Centre had violated the consensus it had reached with the state on the operation of the airport.

“In my letter dated 10.06.2020, the request to hand over the management and operation of the Trivandrum International Airport to the SPV in which the state government is the major stakeholder was reiterated.

This has not been considered and the present decision has come even while the litigation in this regard is pending before the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala as per the direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” the Chief Minister said in the letter.

According to sources, the government is considering passing a resolution in the  Assembly against the Centre’s decision.

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