Adani Group Gets 5 Airports under PPP without Cabinet Approval?
The politically connected Adani Group made news in February by wining projects to develop, operate and maintain five airport projects at Lucknow, Thiruvananthapuram, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mangalore and Guwahati, on a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) basis. This also made news because the Adani group has no previous experience in operating or managing airports. 
 
A Right to Information (RTI) application, filed by activist Sanjay Shirodkar with the ministry of civil aviation on 19 March 2019, reveals that the projects have been announced without even waiting for Cabinet approval.  The RTI response says, “The ministry is still in the process of obtaining approval of the cabinet for awarding the projects in this regard.’’  
 
The reply further indicates that the finance ministry has not framed any rules that require a business house to have relevant prior experience before applying for the projects. 
 
Mr Shirodkar, who has been relentlessly pursuing the issue of privatisation of airports through the last one and a half decade, filed an RTI application seeking a true copy of the approval granted by the minister of civil aviation for the five airport projects named above, to the Adani group. 
 
In the same application, he also asked for a true copy of rules framed by the Central government in 2007 stating that tenders for sector-specific infrastructure projects do not require firms to have prior experience in that sector in order to participate.
 
The CPIO (chief public information officer), civil aviation, forwarded the RTI application to Manoj Kumar Madholia, deputy director in the department of economic affairs (PPP cell) , who replied on 1 April 2019 to say that “the PPP cell of department of economic affairs has not formulated any rules as indicated in point 7 of the RTI request. Therefore, as per Section 6 (3) of the RTI Act, the application is transferred back to the ministry of civil aviation to collect the desired information from the department of expenditure, ministry of finance, which deals with public procurement legislation and rules, notifications, and order.”
 
Mr Shirodkar’s RTI application also asked for the following details:
 
1. Provide a true copy of reservations expressed by the ministry of corporate affairs (MoCA) on this issue (award of five airports to Adani group).
 
2. Provide a true copy of the contract agreement signed between MoCA/GoI and Adani Enterprises for the five airports.
 
3.  Provide a true copy of mandatory consultations done by MoCA/GoI with the states and the public before awarding the five projects to Adani Enterprises.
 
4.  Provide a true copy of correspondence between your office (civil aviation) and prime minister’s office for the period 1 April 2018 till date on the said subjects.
 
The civil aviation ministry has rejected information on all these issues citing Section 8 (1) of the RTI Act. The CPIO said, “Your points from 1 to 6 are exempted under the provision of 8(1) of the RTI Act.” 
 
This is a wide Section that has been frequently abused to deny information to the public under eight sub-sections detailed in this link: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1001313/
 
Interestingly, the digital and video magazine, Newclick, in an investigative report published on the 27th March, had reported that,  “The Union ministry of civil aviation has conceded in the Rajya Sabha,  that the ‘prescribed procedure (of) public consultation or consultation with the state governments (which) are mandatory for leasing out the Airports Authority of India (AAI) airports through (the) PPP (public private partnership) mode’ were not adhered to.” 
 
This was in response to many objections raised to the grant of the project. 
 
Newsclick had also reported that cabinet clearance, which is necessary for the transfer of airports from the AAI (Airport Authority of India) to the Adani group, had not yet come through and such a clearance seemed unlikely to happen since the model code of conduct, in the run up to the general elections had already been announced. 
 
Newsclick also said that it had documents to show that the government had “violated various laws and procedures while arriving at its decision to privatise the six airports that are currently owned and operated by the AAI. In addition, the recommendations made by the department of economic affairs (DEA) in the ministry of finance and the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog on the technical, financial and legal aspects of the bidding process were ignored. Instead, conditions were set up that apparently favoured the Adani group.”
 
In the context of his RTI application, Mr Shirodkar says, “How can such a huge national asset, in the form of five airports be handed over to a private party without the approval of cabinet secretariat?”  
 
He also questioned the legality of the very tender asking for bids to develop, operate and maintain Lucknow, Thiruvananthapuram, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mangalore and Guwahati Airports under the PPP mode.
 
On denial of information on the deal, he says, “any national asset which goes under the PPP mode should be in the public domain and disclosued transparently on a suo moto basis, without waiting for a RTI application.” 
 
Instead, he says, “time and again information on PPP projects is denied, under provisions of Section 8 of the act. This is a big infrastructure fraud by the government.”
 
Mr Shirodkar says he is astonished to know that the department of economic affairs in the ministry of finance has not formulated any rule on allowing private parties, which have no business experience to apply. Then on what basis did Adani Enterprises qualify for these tenders, he asks.
 
Moreover, unlike the Delhi and Mumbai airports, wherein the GMR and the GVK groups have entered into a 74:26 joint venture (JV) with AAI and have to share profits, the Adani group will be handed over the airports completely for itself for 50 years under the PPP model.
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
 
 
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COMMENTS

Mehernosh Dordi

2 weeks ago

By the same token, RG should not be PM because he does not have any experience.

Liju Philip

2 weeks ago

Chowkidar Hi Chor Hai. No wonder the jibe hit modi very hard and he tried to make everyone a part of his corruption by making everyone a chowkidar. But if then the bhakts had brains, we wouldnt have had this illiterate, incompetent corrupt and bumbling buffoon as a PM

REPLY

kalpesh hirani

In Reply to Liju Philip 2 weeks ago

At least chowkidar is not doing tremdous scam like manmohan government. Chowkdar hands over airports to adani openly not like congress government who takes billions of money behind the back without knowing to the public and burns the files as soon as they got defeated.

AAR

In Reply to kalpesh hirani 2 weeks ago

Front or Back looting is looting.
Both Congress and BJP are unfit to rule India.
Whom should we choose?

JAMAL AKHTAR

In Reply to AAR 2 weeks ago

we get the governments we deserves, we need to improve as citizens, govts will follow suit

Meenal Mamdani

2 weeks ago

Modi may not be corrupt personally but he sure is doing all he can to make sure that BJP gets all the money it needs from the Adani group.

REPLY

Liju Philip

In Reply to Meenal Mamdani 2 weeks ago

When MMS was PM, a corrupt policeman in a remote corner of India was also his problem. Now modi hands over 5 airports to his election funder on a platter and he is honest. Modi is easily the worst and the most corrupt PM we ever had.

kiran

In Reply to Meenal Mamdani 2 weeks ago

Even if Modi is not "personally" corrupt, if he allows national assets to be plundered by cronies he is as good or as bad a PM as Man mohan Singh Who was not personally corrupt but allowed all his ministers and party honchos to loot the nation left and right with impunity. Any PM is accountable for the same.

RAMACHANDRAN THARKABHUSHANAM

In Reply to Meenal Mamdani 2 weeks ago

WHAT DO YOU CALL THIS -UNDUE FAVOURITISM TOWARDS ADANIS AND AMBANIS. WHAT IS DEFINITION OF CORRUPTION. ALL PROCEDURE VIOLATIONS ARE FOR SOME BENEFITS WHETHER TANGIBLE OR INTANGIBLE. JIO MODI'S BHAKTHAS.

Vivek Naik

2 weeks ago

modi hai to mumkin hai

ICT school staff accuse IL&FS firm of not paying salary
A commotion broke out here on Tuesday after police baton charged a large number of ICT school coordinators holding a sit-in demonstration demanding "justified salary" and clearing of "pending remuneration".
 
The protesters accused the private implementing agency - a group company of the crisis-hit Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) - of depriving them of "justified salary" under the [email protected] scheme. 
 
"As per the government order, a sum of Rs 3,49,356 in a year was allotted per school in West Bengal on account of maintenance of capital infrastructure, and operational expenses and others. We, as ICT school coordinators, are drawing a remuneration of about Rs 4,600 per month which is too low as compared to the government's allocation. We demand justified salary and clearing of pending remuneration," West Bengal ICT School Coordinator Welfare Association President Swapan Pan said.
 
The company which has been "entrusted with the responsibility of recruiting us and giving us salary is paying less than what we are entitled to", they alleged.
 
Some computer teachers including women were agitating and had come to submit a deputation demanding increase of their salaries before the implementing agency's office at city's Minto park area.
 
According to locals, police carried out a baton charge to disperse the agitators after traffic flow was partially affected because of the gathering.
 
A senior police official said the police tried to push them back when they forcibly tried to enter the office. 
 
Under the centrally sponsored scheme, many state government aided schools were approved by the centre in 2011-12 for implementation of the scheme in West Bengal under Build Own Operate and Transfer model.
 
For the implementation of the project, state government undertaking Webel Informatics had been engaged for consultancy, management and evaluation of the scheme, which, in turn, selected the private implementing agency through open bidding process.
 
Refuting all the allegations, an IL&FS Group official said: "We are compliant with all the conditions of the contract with the state government." 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

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Base effect hits March vehicle sales, YoY off-take up
Even as the base effect and consumer caution ahead of the general elections dampened March sales of some vehicles, the year-on-year (YoY) off-take remained positive.
 
On Monday, automobile major Maruti Suzuki India reported a marginal 1.6 per cent slip in sales, including exports, for March to 158,076 units from 160,598 units in the year-ago period.
 
"The company ended 2018-19 with its highest ever total sales of 1,862,449 units -- a growth of 4.7 per cent. It comprises the highest domestic sales of 1,753,700 units. The export sales were 108,749 units," the company said in a statement.
 
Hyundai Motor India (HMIL) reported a 1.1 per cent rise in sales, including exports, for March to 61,150 units from 60,507 in the corresponding period last year.
 
But it sold 7,07,348 units in FY19, which is a 2.5 per cent increase from the 6,90,184 units sold in FY18.
 
Vikas Jain, National Sales Head, Hyundai Motor India, said: "We closed FY19 on a positive note with a 1.7 per cent growth and the highest domestic volume of 545,153 units, exceeding our customer aspirations."
 
Similarly, Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) reported a marginal pick up in off-take of 62,952 units in March against 62,076 units sold during the same month last year.
 
Automobile major Tata Motors' sales dropped by 1 per cent in March to 68,709 units against 69,409 units sold in the same month of 2018.
 
"Tata Motors' commercial and passenger vehicles business sales in the domestic market for FY19 grew 16 per cent with 678,486 units against 586,507 units over the same period last year," the company said in a statement.
 
Two- and three-wheeler major TVS Motor Company' sales too inched lower to 325,345 units last month against 326,667 units sold in March 2018.
 
"During FY19, two-wheeler sales of the company grew by 12 per cent to 37.57 lakh units, increasing from 33.67 lakh units registered in FY18," the company said in a statement. Three-wheeler sales of the company grew by 59 per cent to 1.56 lakh units in FY19 from 0.99 lakh units in FY18.
 
Two-wheeler major Hero MotoCorp said it despatched 581,279 units in March. "Our March sales have been lower due to a conscious effort to bring down the inventory in the system," Hero MotoCorp said. However, YoY the company's sales stood at 7,820,745 units.
 
According to Ashish Modani, Vice-President & Co-Head -- Corporate Ratings, ICRA, in line with our expectations, passenger vehicle demand remained muted in March. High base of Q1FY19 and cautious customer sentiments ahead of the general elections will continue to weigh during Q1FY20."
 
Sridhar V, Partner, Grant Thornton India, said: "March sales of passenger cars have shown a marginal growth on a YoY basis. However, February had seen a high single-digit growth, driven primarily by new launches, discounts and an incremental demand anticipating a price hike from April 1." 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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