New Delhi: Having failed in its efforts to stop the government from going ahead with privatistion of four more national airports, the AAI employees union has now turned to anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare for help.
AAEU (Airports Authority of India Employees Union) leaders met the septuagenarian activist at Ralegan Siddhi (in Maharashtra) last week to solicit his support in its "fight" against government's attempt to hand over four more state- owned airports to the private corporates.
"We met Anna ji last week to seek his support in our fight over airport privatisation. We informed him how the government is handing over these airports to private corporate even after investing Rs 5,000 crore public money in their modernisation and development work," a source told PTI.
"We also told him how the privatisation of Delhi and Mumbai airport during the UPA regime was a big scam and now this government was also going to repeat the same," the source claimed.
Sources said Hazare gave a "patience" hearing to the leaders during the meeting, which lasted for about 15 minutes, adding, he has sought "details relating to the airport privatisation in Hindi to review it personally".
Hazare also told the leaders that he will look into the issue before "deciding" whether it should be taken up along with his campaign against the controversial land bill, the sources said.
Government auditor CAG had in a report in 2012 criticised the terms under which Delhi airport was privatised in 2005 on the ground that they were skewed in favour of the GMR-led consortium chosen to develop the airport under a public-private partnership.
Similarly, a CAG report last February pilloried the PPP model for the Mumbai airport, which is being operated by the GVK group-led consortium, saying risks had not been properly transferred to the private party as the project cost doubled and the funding gap was filled up by passengers through development fee.
But the government recently extended the bidding date for the privatisation of Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Jaipur Airport to May 26.
The AAI had invited Request for Qualification (RFQ) to hand over the management, operations and development of Kolkata, Chennai, Jaipur and Ahmedabad Airports to private players.
The union, however, is opposed giving away its high density traffic airports to private players on a platter, citing that the move would lead to a further dip in public revenue besides massive retrenchment of the manpower.