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Airport projects put off under poll panel diktat

28 March 2014

Under a diktat from the Election Commission, civil aviation ministry's plans to privatise the running of more of Indian airports has been put on hold till a new government takes over after the April general elections.

The upgrading of Chennai, Kolkata and four other airports has been put off, civil aviation secretary Ashok Lavasa said in New Delhi on Thursday.

The airports in Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Guwahati and Jaipur were also to be modernised with private participation.

''Till the process of elections is over, the Commission has asked us to put it (airport modernisation) on hold. We will defer the date for submission of bids till the election process is over,'' Lavasa told newspersons on the sidelines of the annual session of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).

The modernisation process began in September last year when the government invited pre-qualification bids from private parties for managing these airports by issuing request for qualification (RFQs).

The government was hoping to complete the exercise before the poll panel's 'model code of conduct' came into force, it was unable to move and even the RFQ stage was not reached.

There was much interest in the projects, with at least nine entities, including Fraport-Saudi Arabia, GMR Airports, IL&FS Transportation Network, Celebi Havacilk Holdings, GVK, Sahara, Cochin International Airport, Essar Projects and Essel Infraprojects keen on participating in the Chennai programme.

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