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Left targets airport bids again

December 20, 2005 02:11 IST

The Left parties will move a calling attention motion on the modernisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports for the second time in this parliamentary session.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Nilotpal Basu said his party was not satisfied with the answer that Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had given on the floor of the House on a similar motion last week.

This time too, the Left is accusing the minister of imposing an 'unfolding scam' on the nation in the name of inviting bids for airport modernisation.

According to the Left, the financial consultants, the Dutch bank ABN-AMRO, has a conflict of interest since one of its biggest clients, Reliance, is also one of the bidders for the modernisation project.

It also accused the civil aviation ministry of bartering the assets of Nagpur airport in a bid to provide a Rs 250-crore stamp-duty waiver on the purchase of land of the Mumbai airport in favour of a private company.

"This has been done to compensate the Maharashtra government for its loss of revenue while benefiting the private company as well," the Left leaders said.

Questions were also being raised about the legal and technical consultants for the project.

The Left on Monday made available copies of the government's review committee report in which it was claimed that there was no accountability of the bids and no authentication of documents submitted for the pre-qualification bids.

"It is an unfolding scam and the government should recall the bids," said a Left front leader.

Civil aviation ministry officials, however, contend that the minister has already answered all the queries put to him by the Left on this issue.

In an official release, the ministry pointed out: "The Maharashtra government has for the last five years been proposing the development of an international multi-modal passenger and cargo hub at Nagpur. A communication dated 11 August 2005 has been received by the Ministry of Civil Aviation from the Maharashtra government, on the subject of transfer of all assets of Nagpur airport under Airport Authority of India to government of Maharashtra."

The statement added that the Maharashtra government, while waiving the stamp duty for Mumbai airport, asked the Centre to give the Nagpur airport for a token amount as it had an ambitious development project entailing large investment for it.

The decision is to be resolved through inter-governmental, inter-ministerial and intra-ministerial consultation. Eventually, any final decision in this regard can only be taken by the union cabinet.

In fact, not only the Maharashtra government, a similar waiver of duty has been sought from the Delhi government too for development of the Delhi airport.

Meanwhile, Anil Ambani's Reliance Airports Developers' Private Limited has informed the government that it has no association with ABN Amro, and asserted there was no clash of interest in its bid for the airports project.

In a letter to the Civil Aviation Secretary Ajay Prasad, the RADPL said the company had no links with either the Reliance Industries or ABN Amro.

The letter assumes significance in the wake of the issue of clash of interest being raised by a Planning Commission representative at a meeting of an inter-ministerial group (IMG) late last month, reports PTI.

"In this regard, we wish to state that Reliance Industries Limited has no association, direct or indirect, with RADPL either as a financial adviser, bank or marketer as alleged and therefore there is no conflict of interest," the RADPL said in a letter dated December 12.

At the IMG meeting, the Planning Commission representative was understood to have raised the issue of evaluation by global technical adviser Airplan and had suggested re-bidding by pre-qualified bidders.