Companies & Sectors
Airports Authority, Pawan Hans to go public; Air India's privatisation on hold

Privatisation of national carrier Air India will not happen immediately, but cannot be ruled out in future, the civil aviation minister said


State-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) and national helicopter company Pawan Hans will be listed on the stock exchanges to improve transparency and efficiency, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said on Monday.


The Minister also said that privatisation of national carrier Air India will not happen immediately, but cannot be ruled out in future and there have been suggestions from various quarters in this regard.


Proposals for listing of AAI and Pawan Hans have been made in the Draft Civil Aviation Policy, released by Raju.


Raju said that an expert committee will be constituted to develop the future roadmap for Air India.


"It is essential to ensure that the national carrier achieves its full potential," the Minister said, while adding that a Mission Mode project will also be set up to ensure that all organisations under the Ministry are competitive in terms of cost and efficiency.


"AAI will be corporatised followed by its listing on the stock exchanges to improve efficiency and transparency," Raju said, adding that listing of Pawan Hans would also be undertaken with the same objective.


AAI, a miniratna public sector enterprise, manages 125 airports across the country, including 11 International, 81 domestic and eight Customs Airports. It also manages 25 Civil Enclaves at Defence Airfields.


It has entered into joint ventures at Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Nagpur Airports to upgrade them.


AAI also provides air traffic management services over entire Indian Air Space and adjoining oceanic areas with ground installations at airports and other locations.


Pawan Hans was incorporated in 1985 and presently its shareholding comprises 51% with the Indian government and 49% with state-run ONGC.


It was incorporated with the primary objective of providing helicopter support services to the oil sector for its off-shore exploration operations, services in remote and hilly areas and charter services for promotion of tourism.


Over the years, it has grown into one of Asia's largest helicopter companies and has a fleet of 47 helicopters.


Are You Serious?

It’s time to make Robert Vadra’s poser a national slogan and get regulators and governments to become serious about citizen and consumer rights


In the previous issue, I wrote that minority shareholders of DLF Limited are being punished by the market regulator for the acts of its promoter family going as far back as 2007. Soon after, the comptroller & auditor general (CAG) released its report, confirming what Dr Ashok Khemka, the brilliant and upright IAS officer of Haryana government, had said—that its deal with Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, was dodgy. In fact, it had led to a windfall profit of Rs44 crore to Mr Vadra’s company, Skylight Hospitality Pvt Ltd, in quick time.

Mr Vadra’s clout got him the land allotted by the Haryana government to build a commercial colony, although it had no funds to even qualify for the bid. DLF lent Mr Vadra’s company the funds to buy the land and then gave him a windfall profit through a buyback. It does not require much imagination to know that a large realty company will not gift away such gains without a quid pro quo.

If things weren’t bad enough, Robert Vadra’s reaction to a reporter’s question gave television channels the excuse for high-decibel, prime time discussion, with more collateral damage to DLF Limited.

“Are you serious,” asked Mr Vadra four times and rudely shoved the mike, displaying the shocked outrage of ultra-privileged, State-protected royalty. Most of us feel justifiably angry at his arrogance. But several events in the past week have got me thinking that we, the people, need to be asking this question more often—with as much outrage. And we need to address this to the government and its agencies whose job is to serve the people.

For instance, I want to ask the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) ‘are you really serious’ about corporate wrongdoing? If yes, why did you wait for seven years until there was a new government in place to ban DLF from the market for misstatements in its prospectus? The same question could be asked to the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government which persecuted Dr Khemka for doing his job, despite nationwide outrage over its actions.

The Hooda government was, at least, booted out of office in the recent elections and the new regime may be inclined to investigate its misdeeds. But is it enough? Elections are held only once in five years; but, when it comes to regulators, they don’t even face that test of public scrutiny. How do we make our government accountable to us citizens?

Prime minister Narendra Modi has promised good governance and rule of law; but, unless regulators are made more accountable and forced to act in a time-bound manner, even genuine investigation and enforcement actions and decisions will smack of a witch-hunt.

In India, every financial regulator, central investigation, taxation and enforcement agency—even the ministry of corporate affairs—has always behaved like a handmaiden of the government. For instance, each of them has suppressed detailed and specific complaints against a powerful, listed television company in the past few years. After the BJP came to power, each of them has dusted down their files and started asking questions.

Will the investigation be taken to its logical conclusion where the company is either exonerated or punished? Or will the findings be buried again? It begs the question: Are our regulators serious? Or will we continue the policy of ‘show me the person and I will show you the law’ after checking his/her political clout?

Let’s now move from companies and financial regulators to what government departments and ministries are doing. Consider the recent embarrassment of Maharashtra’s newly elected chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. His first announcement on taking charge was that he would introduce the Right to Service Act to empower citizens. Did his bureaucrats forget to tell him that this Act was passed and notified in 2006 and was in limbo ever since? Or that its official nomenclature was “Government Servants Regulation of Transfers and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Official Duties Act, 2006”?   

Former central information commissioner, Shailesh Gandhi, has been campaigning for proper implementation of this Act since the beginning of this year. In May 2014, he even conducted an awareness-building seminar at Moneylife Foundation and urged concerned citizens to file applications under the Act. A key provision of this statute is the Citizen’s Charter, which spells out the services citizens should expect and in what timeframe and prescribes action against officials for delays.

Hopefully, Devendra Fadnavis has asked his chief secretary: ‘Are you serious?’ about this goof-up with at least as much outrage as Mr Vadra showed. More importantly, will he ensure that it is properly implemented?

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has pulled a similar fast one on consumers. It has drafted a ‘Charter of Consumer Rights’ that was notified in August 2014 after discussions with various stakeholders. But RBI is turning a deaf ear to our repeated pleas that a Bill of consumer rights is useless if it does not spell out the consequences and penalties for treating customers unfairly. Naturally, we are asking RBI, ‘are you really serious’ about consumer rights.

Today, concerned Indians are forced to file public interest litigation (PIL) to get the government to act. Even long-drawn litigation, leading to an important court order, does not guarantee change. A year or two later, it becomes clear that the government, or its ministries, have no intention of implementing judgements and the activists are back in court with a contempt petition for a PIL to get a law implemented. Twice this month, the Bombay high court has had to ask: ‘are you serious’ (or words to that effect).

On 1st November, a divisional bench of the Bombay high court asked the Maharashtra government to apprise it of the steps taken to implement the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. Seven years after the Act was passed, the NGO, Mission Justice, and advocate Siddharth Murarka, filed a PIL asking the court to direct the government to implement the Act. The government has been asked to respond by 14th November. This is another case where a law is ostensibly enacted for the protection and welfare of senior citizens, but the government is not at all serious about making it work.

Finally, there is the decade-long battle fought by brave-heart activist Samir Zaveri for medical facilities for accident victims. Mr Zaveri, who lost both his legs in a railway accident at the age of 16, filed a contempt plea in a 10-year old order (6 October 2004) asking the railways to provide emergency medical aid to accident victims. On 19 March 2013, the Bombay HC issued an important order with detailed directions to the railways on emergency medical help which covered the cost of ambulances and hospitals.

But he is back in court, because the Indian railways simply don’t care. On 5th November, a furious Bombay HC bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Ajey Gadkari pulled up the railways for their insensitivity and contrary stand in court. With 3,600 deaths and over 4,000 accidents every year on Mumbai’s suburban railway tracks, should we expect the railways to be more serious about emergency medical care to save the lives of those who simply bleed to death?

We, at Moneylife, have discovered the utter callousness of the system, when our colleague was a victim of the killer tracks in July. Unless we can make top officials accountable, the railways are unlikely to get serious about passenger safety.

Maybe it’s time to make Mr Vadra’s query a national slogan and get regulators and governments, at all levels, to become serious about citizen and consumer rights.


(Sucheta Dalal is the managing editor of Moneylife. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2006 for her outstanding contribution to journalism. She can be reached at [email protected])




3 years ago

No, they are not serious.Those who are supposed to be the watchdogs of
Consumer Interests care too little about the Consumers. They care more about protecting the consumer exploiters. When asked why they are not taking action, reply is a simple helplessness, 'No teeth' Laws do not empower them. They advise, for relief "GO TO CONSUMER FORUM". Every where we find the Consumer at the receiving end.Role of Media? Sorry to say, except 'Moneylife' all other media confine mere reporting of Court judgments.
If any consumer has a serious grievance, the media does not have time or inclination to even print a line.

Mahesh S Bhatt

3 years ago

Big people get away with murders/poor die daily who cares.Moneylife does salute you & your team for relentless pursuit.

Sad to hear that Chairman of Railway Board shall respond to samir Jhaveri's HC court orders but sad part is there are hikes in passenger fares even by Modi Gov.But nobody cares for poor's safety/life security.

Railway's Mumbai hold dubious distinction of number 1 killer that terrorism but still its adily news bites which even newspapers donot want to report.

Add on top of it we have Municipal bad practices of oaver tiles fraud unfolding at steadily at all stations.One girl lost her arms at Ghatkopar & Politicians were ready to get mileage but no systemic support.

The asphalt on stations is good enough but its now being pavered & will become new cause for more fatalties.Aleady bridges have granites which give way soon due to poor cementing(eg Andheri station)/Matunga CR station Z bridge has glaze tiles which have comeout & people slip due to its smoothness.But corrupt Railway Officials want to make money in the name of beautification/cost of human lives.God Bless Indian Mahesh

Proloy Coomar Pramanik

3 years ago

This is a nice fictionalized account of the Vadra DLF land deal -- the kind that'll make even Chetan Bhagat proud, once made into a movie (any resemblance to any character, living or dead, being purely coincidental). And going by the box office performance, it's already busting charts (and counting).

"Mr Vadra’s clout got him the land allotted by the Haryana government to build a commercial colony, although it had no funds to even qualify for the bid."

As far as I can gather, the facts of the matter stand thus: Mr Vadra bought land from one private party and sold it to another private party. The former was Messrs Onkareshwar Properties, from which Mr Vadra bought 3.5 acres of land for about 7.5 crores, and in a couple of years (or less) sold it to the latter -- DLF -- for 52 crores. That's about a seven-bagger speculative gain in real-estate.

Since Ms Dalal professes that the Haryana government "allotted Vadra the land despite he not qualifying for the bid", my humble curiosity is -- Was Messrs Onkareshwar Properties acting as "Government of Haryana" in this case, and did it "float a tender" to sell the land, which presumably Mr Vadra was disqualified for, and managed to buy only because of political clout in violation of government rules...?

The only role the government of Haryana played was in permitting the land to be mutated from 'agriultural' to 'commercial', upon application for that purpose by Mr Vadra. Since this is such a rare occurrence, with the phenomenon being unheard of in any part of the country (other than Mr Vadra's 3.5 acres, of course) that it should certainly raise the hackled collars of any investigative journalist. And Ms Dalal is certainly one -- a decorated one at that. (It's another matter that 22000 other acres of non-Vadra land too were similarly mutated by the same Haryana government, but let's not discuss that -- it's quite irrelevant really.)

My only request to Ms Dalal would be to publish the details of the "bid" that the Haryana government floated which Mr Vadra did not "qualify for" by vice of having "just one lakh", and got the land "allotted" instead (the land which
actually belonged to Onkareshwar Properties). Being an investigative star, I'm sure she'd be having those details in her pocket (else, I'll ask Arnab). It'd also be interesting to know how much below market rates the twin transactions of purchase and sale took place at, and how much loss of stamp duty was incurred as a result by the exchequer.

The Chetan Bhagat saga didn't start with Ms Dalal though -- it started with Mr Kejriwal. Who went to town claiming that Mr Vadra got an "interest free loan" of Rs 7.5 crore from Corporation Bank for financing the deal. Corporation Bank checked its books and clarified that no such loan was ever given -- interest-free or otherwise. (Readers may please note -- the story has changed since then, and as per Ms Dalal, the latest cut is that "DLF lent Mr Vadra’s company the funds to buy the land". You know, as times change, so do stories.)

It transpires that Mr Vadra paid Messrs Onkareshwar Properties by check, and asked them to wait for a week before encashing it, by which time he hoped to get funds in his account through another incoming payment (and no, that wasn't from DLF). In his books, Mr Vadra showed the payment as "overdraft" on the day of the transaction, which became -- quite Johnny Leveresquely -- 'interest free loan'.

Mr Khemka quashed the mutation permission. He didn't quash the sale -- which he didn't have any jurisdiction over whatsoever. His quashing was on a technical ground -- that the officer allowing the mutation was too junior to allow that. Mr Khemka, brilliant and upright as he is, wasn't so brilliant to have read the government rule-book which expressly empowered an officer of that supposed junior level to permit such mutations. And, guess what, officers of the same junior level had allowed 150 other such mutations in the same town of Shikohpur before the Vadra deal. Mr Khemka cancelled Mr Vadra's mutation but thought nothing of applying the same yardstick to the 150 others. The law can't be the same for everyone, can it...? And unless you are a "damaad of someone", how can your land be of interest to His Honesty and Brilliancy, Mr Khemka...? Surely one can't let an elected government frame the rule-books, when a person of Mr Khemka's brilliance is waiting around to legislate.

But then, what is life (and journalism) without having the privilege of taking a few 'creative liberties'...! Shouldn't Ms Dalal be allowed a few of those to relieve us of the humdrum monotony of dealing only with facts...? Certainly, Ms Dalal, certainly...! One can't always be serious...!

Hemlata Mohan

3 years ago

Sorry for being pessimistic- do you think that the so called regulators are really bothered?This is so the world over where each one cosies up to another just to extract the maximum juice- else do you think that the 2008 crisis would have happened?
Unless something hurts me and hurts me bad, I'm not going to care about the others- this is the world!

Narendra Doshi

3 years ago

Dear Sucheta,
As usual , timely wake up call.

Vaibhav Dhoka

3 years ago

The so called regulators are are heavyweights on perks and not action.When it come for action they act cowardly.


3 years ago

who will regulate the regulator when consumer rights is no more their agenda. Regulators in India want to please corporate sector and govt. rather than protecting consumer right.

October domestic car sales decline 2.55% to 1.6 lakh units

As per the SIAM data, vehicle sales across categories registered a decline of 3.84% to 17.9 lakh units in October from 18.6 lakh units in same month last year


Domestic passenger car sales declined 2.55% to 1.59 lakh units in October from 1.63 lakh units in the year-ago month.


According to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), motorcycle sales last month also declined 8.73% to 10.1 lakh units from 11.1 lakh units a year earlier. Total two-wheeler sales in October declined 3.61% to 14.62 lakh units.


Sales of commercial vehicles declined 2.97% to 51,965 units in October, SIAM said.


Vehicle sales across categories registered a decline of 3.84% to 17.9 lakh units from 18.6 lakh units in October 2013, it added.


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