After accusing the Central government of a "scam" in the tender for operating five international airports, including Thiruvananthapuram, to Adani Enterprises, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the airport in Thiruvananthapuram not be handed over to Adani.
In the letter, Mr Vijayan demanded PM Modi's immediate intervention to see that the state-owned Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation Ltd-led company, formed especially for operating the airport, be given the running of the Thiruvananthapuram Airport.
"If this new company is handed over the running of the airport, then the interests of both the state and the Centre would be protected. It's surprising how come a private company has bagged the right to run the airport even when this particular company has no experience in running airports. In Kerala, two airports (Kochi and Kannur) are run by specially formed companies under the Kerala government and are doing well," he said.
Mr Vijayan noted that for the airport, Kerala government had taken over 635 acres of land and handed it for free, while in 2005, another 23.57 acres was again given free for the airport. "There is a clause in the agreement that, if in future, the airport is handed over to a private company, then the value of the land given for free for the airport by the state government should be converted into equity of the state government," he said in the letter.
Mr Vijayan also pointed out that the KSIDC has already approached the Kerala High Court over the handing-over and it has ruled that any decision on finalizing the tender should take place after the court's ruling come.
In the financial bid opened on Monday, Adani had quoted the highest rate for a passenger for the Thiruvananthapuram airport at Rs 168, against the KSIDC's Rs 135 and the GMR's Rs 63.
The other airports that Adani has won in the tender are Mangaluru, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Jaipur.