Local evictees protest against airport authority

Local evictees protest against airport authority
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AAI is bringing in a non-local entity to man all commerical spots at Srinagar airport

SRINAGAR: Local entrepreneurs manning commercial spots at the Srinagar airport staged a protest at Press Enclave here on Monday to draw public attention to the “injustice” meted out to them by the Airport Authority of India.
The protest comes as AAI moves to dislodge all local shoppers from the airport to hand over the spots to a non local businessman. The entrepreneurs said that they were tenants of commercial spots acquired through tenders at Srinagar airport for many years.
The shoppers have been served notices to vacate the shops within three to six months; including those whose contract is valid upto 2019. The airport authority is handing over entire spots to a “master concessionaire”.
“They have asked some to evict shops by three months, and some by six months as per validity of the lease,” one of the shopkeeper, said. “They have even put caveats in the high court so that nobody brings a stay against the arbitrary decision to shunt us out.”
“The qualification for tendering as a Concessionaire was fixed in such a way that hardly any local entrepreneur could qualify. The conditions for qualifying as a Concessionaire were made deliberately difficult, so that no local entrepreneur could be able to participate in the absence of minimum annual turnover of Rs 6 Crore and 50 lacs, and tie up with two international and one national brand,” the protesters said.
They alleged that Kashmir has been singled out as no such tender has been floated for Jammu airport which caters to much more traffic than Srinagar on account of around a crore visitors to Vaishno Devi.
“This action of Airport Authority of India is one more step in the direction of crippling local entrepreneurs while benefiting businesses from outside the state. This demonstration was aimed to bring attention of public to the injustice,” said Mubeen Shah ex-president of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The protesters said that the move will render hundreds of local employees jobless, at a time “when the state is going through financial crisis especially post floods of 2014”.