LDF govt faces wrath for opposing airport privatisation

Kerala Chief Minister’s private secretary M V Jayarajan told DH that the Kerala Government’s stand was being misinterpreted as anti-private investment. (PTI File Photo)

The Kerala Government’s efforts to project the state as investor-friendly have suffered a major setback with technocrats, heads of global firms and representatives of IT and trade bodies coming out in the open flaying the CPM-led government’s stand against privatising the Thiruvananthapuram international airport.

The Kerala Government’s decision to move court challenging the tendering by Airports Authority of India (AAI) for selecting the private party for management, operation and development of the airport, along with five other airports in the country, has been openly termed by the IT giants in the state as ‘destruction’ of the industrial development of Kerala.

The major concern of the industry bodies is that Thiruvananthapuram airport, which has been managed by the Airports Authority of India, is loosing out to other airports with regard to connectivity and infrastructure. There are even unconfirmed reports that a major IT company that recently started operations in Thiruvananthapuram is even weighing options of relocating owing to poor air connectivity to other Indian cities.

The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), a Kerala Government undertaking that unsuccessfully participated in the tendering for the airport, has moved court against handing over the airport to the Adani group, which won the bid.

Flaying the KSIDC’s decision, Nissan Motor Company chief information officer Tony Thomas commented on the social media, “The D in KSIDC stands for destruction and C for cartel. Thank you Kerala State Industrial Destruction Cartel for being sore losers and leading the charge to destroy industrial development of Trivandrum.”

Tony Thomas, who hails from Kerala, played a key role in Nissan setting up its global digital hub at Thiruvananthapuram last year.

Tony’s observation has been backed by Vijaya Raghavan, the founding chief executive officer of Technopark, the Kerala government’s IT park in Thiruvananthapuram. “As Tony said, is KSIDC trying to bring or prevent investments to Kerala?,” he asked in a FB post. He also points out that the airports like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore have improved much after privatisation. 

Representatives of about 40 trade and commerce bodies participated at a meeting organised by the Thiruvananthapuram Chamber of Commerce and Industries here the other day and strongly flayed the Kerala Government’s stand. The camber is also launching a massive media campaigns against the Kerala Government’s false propaganda regarding airport privatisation, said the chamber president S N Raghuchandran Nair. 

Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister’s private secretary M V Jayarajan told DH that the Kerala Government’s stand was being misinterpreted as an anti-private investment. He said that the Kerala Government was trying for public-private-participation model airport as in the case of the Cochin International Airport Limited in Kochi and the Kannur International Airport Limited, that are proving to be successful. This would give opportunity to more private parties, including major IT companies in the state, to invest in the airport’s development, he said. 

Industry sources feel that many positive initiates being initiated by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to shed the anti-development tag of the Left government is back to square one with the stand on the Thiruvananthapuram airport. The Chief Minister even literally warned that the private player who takes over the airport. He also shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against privatising the airport.

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LDF govt faces wrath for opposing airport privatisation

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