New Delhi: CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress on Tuesday joined hands in the Rajya Sabha to slam the NDA government over "privatisation" of airports, asking how this "loot" of public money was being allowed.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Tapan Sen (CPI-M) said private agencies were being roped in for operation and maintenance of airports in Kolkata, Chennai, Jaipur and Ahmedabad even as Airport Authority of India (AAI) had carried out modernisation work at these airports with public money.
An effort was on to involve private sector in all airports after modernisation, he said.
Noting that 20 airports in the country were modernised with public money worth over Rs 27,000 crore, Sen rued that the AAI, which carried out this work, was now virtually being converted into a body only renting its properties out.
"How is this loot of public money being allowed. Government must come out with a clear explanation," he said alleging that private players were being allowed to "mint money" even in non-aeronautical commercial ventures which should go to the AAI.
"Already all the AAI unions are agitating against it. They are also going to agitate on March 12," he said.
Supporting him, senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the government had ten years ago decided that AAI would modernise all airports after Mumbai and Delhi were given away to private-led consortia. "Under what authority is this policy now being reversed," he asked.
SP member Naresh Agrawal interjected saying that even Lucknow airport was being given to a private party. "It is a big scam," he alleged.
In a separate Zero Hour mention, Trinamool Congress' Sukhendu Sekhar Roy questioned the proposed construction of a shopping mall at Kolkata airport.
He said that three acres of land within Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport at Kolkata, which was earmarked for construction of new five-storied technical block of the Air Traffic Control and an 80-feet tower, was now being transformed into a shopping mall.
"This decision was reportedly taken on February 8 this year... This Government is trying to privatise everything by compromising the safety of the air passengers to and from Kolkata," Roy said and sought a statement from the Minister.
"How the land which was earmarked for ATC is being converted for a shopping mall. This is the way the airport land is being compromised at the cost of the safety of the passengers," he rued.