Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Thursday called an all-party-meeting to discuss and protest against the Centre's decision to hand over of the management and operation of the Thiruvananthapuram airport to the Adani group.
The meeting called by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will be held at 4 pm today and will be through video conferencing, a statement from the CMO said.
The Union Cabinet had on Wednesday approved the proposal for leasing out airports at Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram through public-private partnership (PPP).
Adani Enterprises had won the rights to run six airports — Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, and Guwahati — through the PPP model after a competitive bidding process in February 2019.
Vijayan has already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention and to reconsider the decision as it would be "difficult" for the state to cooperate.
The State'srepeated requests to entrust the airport managementwith the special purpose vehicle (SPV) in which the state governmentis the major stakeholder was also ignored, Vijayan had stated.
"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," Vijayan said in the letter.
The ruling Left and the opposition Congress have also come out against the Centre over its decision to lease out three airports to the Adani group, accusing it of privatising all PSUs while the country was battling COVID-19.
"Thiruvananthapuram airport privatised to Adani rejecting the claim of Kerala govt, even after offer to match Adani's rate. PMO's promise to accept Kerala proposal broken. People of Kerala will not accept this act of brazen cronyism. #Airportprivatisation," State Finance Minister Dr Thomas Isaac tweeted on Thursday.
Opposition Congress Leader Ramesh Chennithala said "the dictatorial act" cannot be allowed and "must be resisted".
"The Union Government's decision to award operations of Trivandrum Airport to Adani Group on a 50-year lease amidst the COVID crisis is a deplorable move. The airport is the state's property, and must not be privatised," he tweeted.
"The decision to go for PPP mode despite state govt's readiness to operate and manage the airport shows how the Central Govt is trying to use the COVID pandemic to hand over all PSUs to the private sector," Chennithala said in another tweet.
KPCC President Mullappally Ramachandran said the move to privatise the airport was "deplorable".
"We need to protest in order to force the centre to withdraw this decision. None of us need to be in the payroll of these corporate giants," he said onThursday.
Taking a different stand from that of his party-- Congress leader and former Union minister, who is also Thiruvananthapuram MP, Shashi Tharoor has come out in support of the Centre's decision and said "a private entity running the operations competitively is the only way this airport could flourish."
"The people of Thiruvananthapuram want a first-class airport worthy of the city's history, status, and potential. In this context, a decision, however controversial, is preferable to the long delay we have suffered.
"The reality is that a private entity running the operations competitively is the only way this airport could flourish. Whoever it is, the ownership of land and airport as well as the responsibilities of ATC, Security, Customs & Immigration still remains with the Govt agencies," Tharoor tweeted on Wednesday.
Slamming Tharoor, State Minister Kadakampally Surendran, said his stand was "treacherous" and asked him to withdraw it and apologise.
"Tharoor's stand, as a representative of Thiruvananthapuram, is treacherous. He has been batting for this businessman. Why is a people's representative supporting this corporate? Even the Congress party does not have such a stand. Tharoor is taking a shameless stand for Adani. He should withdraw the statement and apologise to the people" Surendran said.
Meanwhile, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh also attacked the Centre's decision and said the Airports Authority of India could mean Adani Airports of India.
"First, the airports in Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangalore were sold off. Now, it is the turn of Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram. All six sold to one private company. At this rate, AAI (Airports Authority of India) could well mean 'Adani Airports of India'," Ramesh tweeted.