New Delhi: The parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture has criticised the government of Dr Manmohan Singh for entrusting the modernisation of a total of 35 non-metro airports to private players.
The standing committee pointed out that the decision to allow private participation in the modernisation of these airports was in contravention of the stand taken on the issue by the committee of infrastructure, which ironically is headed by the prime minister himself.
At its twelfth meeting that was held in June 2006, the infrastructure committee had ruled that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) would given the task of the airport-side development, which would include the development of the terminal building of the 35 airports located outside the four metros. The city-side development, it was decided, would be undertaken through private public partnership (PPP) route.
The parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture noted that the inter-ministerial group, which was headed by the civil aviation secretary, had gone against the decision of the infrastructure committee. The inter-ministerial group (IMG) is reported to now have suggested that commercial operations in the terminal building would be done through the PPP route.
The standing committee highlighted the fact that the IMG decided that the scope of the project's work would include commercial operations and maintenance of the terminal building, as well as the development and operation of cargo, and the real estate development on land identified for the purpose. Basis this decision, the Planning Commission prepared a PPP model concession agreement for the terminal buildings, spanning 30 years.
The parliamentary panel on transport, tourism and culture is headed by CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury, and had tabled its report in Parliament last week. It has asked the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to clarify the issue, and has argued that the stand taken by the IMG was a deviation from the decision taken earlier by the committee of infrastructure.
The panel maintains that commercial operations of terminal buildings is a profit-making activity that would have yielded revenues for the AAI, which could have been reinvested in developing airside operations. It has recommended that the airport-side development, which includes the commercial use of terminal buildings should be entrusted with the AAI.