Airport: govt. scrambles to defend itself

The State government on Sunday appeared to scramble to defend itself against the allegation that it had deliberately lost the bid to operate the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport to Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL).

Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan, who seemed to have found himself in a tight spot, said a high power committee headed by the Chief Secretary had chosen Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, a legal firm, to represent the Kerala State Industries Development Corporation (KSIDC) in the bidding.

However, the government had not known whether the firm had family members of the Adani group on its board. The government would probe whether any conflict of interest had paved the way for the State losing the bid to operate, manage and develop the priced public asset for the next 50 years.

The United Democratic Front (UDF), which had initially backed the government’s proposal to oppose the takeover, has rejected the bipartisan initiative of the Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the United Democratic Front (UDF) would protest the AEL’s takeover of the airport independently. It would have no truck with the “deceitful” government. The government had handed over the airport to AEL on a platter. It had conspired with AEL to ensure the KSIDC lost the bid.

Mr. Chennithala said “inside information” had helped AEL win the bid. The government had stacked the decks in AEL’s favour. It also favoured the company by appointing an IAS officer “close” to the Adani group as head of the KSIDC. “The LDF is running with the hares and hunting with the hounds,” he said.

BJP State president K. Surendran said the government was secretly pleased that AEL had gained control of the airport. It had shed a few crocodile tears for the lost asset to hoodwink the public. The LDF has lost its credibility, he said.

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