CPI (M) wants airport development fee scrapped

CPI(M) MP has asked the government to stop it saying it violates parliamentary privilege as the House is yet to adopt an amendment to the rules.

New Delhi: As Delhi airport started
collecting Development Fee (DF) from Thursday, a CPI(M) MP has
asked the government to stop it saying it violates
parliamentary privilege as the House is yet to adopt an
amendment to the rules.

"As per Parliamentary procedure, rules will come into
force only after they are adopted by Parliament," K N
Balagopal, CPI(M) member of Rajya Sabha, said in a letter to
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He said an amendment to the proposed Airport Authority of
India (Major Airports) Development Fees Rules 2011, moved by
him, has been accepted by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari
"as a Statutory Motion and has listed it in the agenda".

This means, the rules have not been finalised or accepted
by Parliament and so the rules are not enforceable yet,
Balagopal said.

"This is in violation of administrative and parliamentary
procedures and, importantly, is also a violation of
Parliamentary privileges", the MP said and urged the Prime
Minister to urgently intervene in the matter and "direct the
concerned authorities to stop collection of Development Fee".

In a recent order, the Airports Economic Regulatory
Authority has allowed DIAL to levy Rs 200 from domestic and Rs
1,300 from international passengers from Thursday.

Balagopal, who had also written to Singh on the issue in
August, claimed that "an amount of Rs 1481.72 crore was
collected without any legal provision. The Honourable Supreme
Court in a judgement had directed Delhi International Airport
Limited to stop this illegal collection".

Maintaining that this amount was "now lying with DIAL",
he said, "I had requested you (Prime Minister) to recover this
amount from DIAL and use to develop other government-run
airports in the country.

"Since this amount is collected without any legal
provision, DIAL is not eligible to keep it. As a matter of
routine it should have gone to the exchequer of the
government," the CPI(M) MP said.

He said he had also demanded that projects under
private-public partnership (PPP) should be brought under the
audit ambit of the Comptroller and Auditor General "as a huge
sum of public money is involved in this".

"But unfortunately, till date ... no action has been
taken to recover the illegally collected huge sum of money.
Instead, the government has framed some rules and laid them on
the table of Rajya Sabha to help DIAL collect the Development
Fee again from passengers," Balagopal said.

"These rules have some provisions to overcome the legal
laxities pointed out by the Supreme Court. They also attempt
to legalise the amount illegally collected by DIAL", he said.

He claimed that the tender conditions regarding the
development of the Delhi Airport by DIAL had "no provision to
collect the development fee."


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