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Kerala government moves HC in Thiruvananthapuram airport leasing issue

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Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government has approached the high court seeking a stay on leasing out of Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani Enterprises. The Kerala government’s move is aimed at stopping the Union government from privatising the airport.

It has contended that the Centre’s move to privatise the airport will result in “irreparable injury and hardship”.

Govt approached HC after all-party meeting

The Kerala government filed the application in the court a day after an all-party-meeting. The all-party meeting demanded the withdrawal of the Union Cabinet’s Wednesday decision to lease out the airport to Adani Enterprises.

Last year, the high court had dismissed the petition challenging the decision. It has then said that the petition is not maintainable under Article 226 of the Constitution. The state government then filed an appeal before the Supreme Court challenging the high court order.

The apex court set aside the judgment of the high court. The matter then remanded back to the high court for a decision on merit.

State govt seeks stay

Referring to the top court directive, the state government said, “all further proceedings in relation to grant of lease with regard to operation, management and development of Thiruvananthapuram international airport to Adani Enterprises Ltd, is to be stayed pending disposal of the aforementioned writ petition.”

Barring the BJP, all other parties opposed the Union cabinet’s decision. Notably, the Cabinet has decided to lease out Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram airports through public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

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It has also decided to move a resolution in this regard in the state Assembly. Notably, the Assembly is going to be convened for a day on 24 August.

Vijayan later shot off his second letter in two days to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He conveyed the decision taken at the all-party meeting and requested him to reconsider the privatisation move.

Adani Enterprises has 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.

Kerala govt did not qualify in bidding process, claims Centre

Vijayan told the all-party meet that the state government had asked for the management and the operation of the airport with the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in which it will be the major shareholder.

The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) had taken part in the bidding. However, the Union government said that the Kerala government did not qualify in the “transparent” bidding process.

 

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