House panel raps privatisation of AAI-developed airports

Instead of giving away the airports to the private sector ‘on a platter’, state-run airports authority of India (AAI) should form a subsidiary or a special purpose vehicle to grant management contracts to entities having expertise in the field, the panel recommended.

‘Privatisation of airports is a great disservice being done to the country by this government. Public assets are being placed at the disposal for private operators...Undue haste is being shown in the process...we want to know from the government why it proceeded with that sort of haste as that leaves a scope for lots of issues to be interpreted,’ CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told a press conference.

Yechury, who is chairman of the standing committee on transport, tourism and culture, was talking to reporters after submitting a report on airports privatisation to Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari.

The report comes at a time when the process of privatising the airports at Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Guwahati is underway. ‘The committee is dismayed that instead of strengthening AAI by giving it much needed financial and administrative autonomy to enable it to take its own decisions without being influenced/advised by either the ministry or the planning commission, a decision to give our airports on platter to private parties was taken.

‘The committee fails to understand the logic behind privatising all these airports after spending tax payers’ money for modernising them. The public utilities created by public fund cannot be given to private parties for commercial considerations,’ the report said.
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