New Delhi: The committee on Infrastructure headed by prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh has approved the Rs40,000-crore expansion and modernisation plan for airports across the country and also the setting up of a regulator for the sector. The plan includes the privatisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports and greenfield projects in Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia said: "Airport development would be done through a combination of public-private partnership for Delhi and Mumbai airports and either through public or private funding in the north-east sector." On the mobilisation of funds, he said: "The public-private partnership for Mumbai and Delhi airports should generate additional resources for the AAI. It is also capable of raising money from the market," he added.
He said the government is planning to set up an independent regulator for the sector by January next year as part of the comprehensive civil aviation policy. The regulator will look into the economic aspects of the business as well as settle disputes. The government hopes to award the bids for Delhi and Mumbai airports by the middle of 2005.
Praful Patel, civil aviation minister, said 25 major airports had been identified for privatisation while 55 others could be additionally privatised. He said 80 airports would be developed in the next five years. The government has also decided to revamp the board of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) by inducting independent directors for better corporate governance and professionalism.
AAI would, however, continue to remain under government ownership.