AAI staff warn protest against privatisation

NEW DELHI: Employees of Airports Authority of India (AAI) have warned of an agitation to protest Civil Aviation Ministry’s moves to put the process of privatisation of six major airports on “fast track”, especially when Model Code of Conduct was in force.
The Airports Authority Employees Union (AAEU) has been “watching the moves of the government, at the behest of the Planning Commission, to put airport privatisation on a fast track,” AAEU General Secretary B S Ahlawat said in a letter to the government and the Planning Commission.
Maintaining that the government, “on the advice of the Planning Commission”, was moving fast on the process, he said the AAI has spent over Rs 5,000 crore very recently on developing Chennai and Kolkata airports.
“The prime airports, with prime land, are planned to be served to private entities at a throw away price, thus amounting to open squandering of public money by those people who are going to the public for election,” Ahlawat said.
The airports which are being given to private parties on 30-year lease for operation and management are located in Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Lucknow and Jaipur.
The letter came a few days after Trinamool Congress leader and Chairman of the Airports Authority of India Joint Forum Saugata Roy asked the Election Commission to immediately stop the process of privatisation of six major airports as the Model Code was in force.
The AAEU leader said “the alacrity with which files are moving is not shown when issues relating to employees’ welfare” have to be taken up.
Claiming that the sale of government land was the “hidden agenda” behind the privatisation move, he accused politicians and bureaucrats of “working overtime” to take the process forward for their own benefit.       —PTI