The four Left parties, the CPI(M), CPI, RSP and AIFB have addressed a letter to the Prime Minister expressing opposition to any move to privatise the Mumbai and Delhi airports.
The letter is being released to the press for publication.
Text of Letter Addressed to the Prime Minister
November 26, 2005
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Government of India
Dear Shri Manmohan Singhji,
We invite your kind attention to the report of Parliamentary Standing Committee of Transport, Tourism & Culture on development of Airport Sector which was presented to Parliament on 23.8.05. The Committee has noted with concern that the modernization and restructuring of Delhi and Mumbai airports are lingering on for a fairly long period on the plea of resource crunch which was used as a ploy to privatize the non-aeronautical services of these two airports of Airport Authority of India (AAI).
As a matter of fact the obsession of the NDA Govt. to privatize/lease the Metro Airports instead of modernising the same as per the proposal put up by AAI in 1993 and 1996, brought the entire process of development of these airports to a grinding halt. We regret that in spite of the categorical commitment in NCMP not to privatize profit making PSUs, UPA Government continued to pursue the same route of privatization of the top two major revenue-earning airports at Delhi and Mumbai. The entire workforce of Airport Authority of India, under a joint forum including engineers, architects and professionals, have been strongly opposing this route of modernization through privatization and submitted an alternative plan to you on 18.6.2004, for modernization of Delhi and Mumbai airports with internal resources under the present set up of AAI.
As you are kindly aware AAI is consistently earning profit and it is having a reserve of Rs. 2500 crore with a debt equity ration of 1:1.5. Thus finance can be easily tapped further from debt market for the purpose of financing the modernization scheme costing Rs. 5 to 6,000 crores in the first phase of five years as offered by some private bidders. In absence of consensus pursuant to the consultation with the employees and in the light of alternative plan submitted by the employees, the best option in our opinion, is to speed up the modernization of these airports immediately through AAI instead of wasting any further time in going through a privatization/joint venture route which apart from violating the spirit of NCMP is also vitiating the industrial relation scenario in the vital airport sector. With the assurance of viability funding from the government and necessary clearance to AAI to commercially lease part of their land, this is also the most expeditious route for modernization.
We also draw your attention to the findings of the Standing Committee in the futility of the current proposals for addressing the mid term not to speak of the long term infrastructure requirements. The Ministry officials have themselves pointed out that so far as the current proposal for modernization is concerned in Mumbai, no second runway, can come up while the augmentation of technical capacity is concerned, will be just 10 to 15 per cent. And they further pointed out that this modernization can not address projected demand beyond 2012. Similarly, in Delhi the present phase does not address access to the airport and the question of traffic engineering and how it will ensure exit and entry to the terminal building. Given this fact we feel the best course would be to go for creating truly huge capacity in Delhi and Mumbai and may be some other important metros through green field projects. That is the way most of the South East Asian and East Asian countries have gone about in addressing this vital question. In that case handing over the current modernization programme can be left alone to the AAI which will fill in the infrastructure constraint temporarily till the new green fields are commissioned.
We therefore express our firm opposition to any unilateral decision of privatization of Delhi and Mumbai airports, the two major profit centers of a consistently profit making PSU, like AAI that too without consultation/agreement with its 22000 employees.
Prakash Karat A.B. Bardhan
General Secretary, CPI(M) General Secretary, CPI
Debabrata Biswas Abani Roy
General Secretary, AIFB Secretary, RSP