Srinagar airport officials under CBI scanner

Two Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials posted in Srinagar International Airport are under the CBI scanner for causing a loss of around Rs 6.80 crore for allowing two private firms to operate a lounge as well as stalls and outlets selling dry fruits, Kashmiri handicraft and shawls among others illegally.

The CBI has registered separate FIRs last week against AAI Manager (Commercial) Praveen Kumar Kanojia, Junior Assistant Engineer Aijad Abdullah, Mumbai-based PK Global Pvt Ltd Vice President Virendra Aggarwal among others in the two cases.

According to one of the FIRs, the two AAI officials allegedly entered into a criminal conspiracy with PK Global Trends Pvt Ltd to allot booths and outlets for selling dry fruits, gift items, eatables, Kashmiri handicraft, shawls to the company "in highly cryptic manner without obtaining relevant documents as mentioned in the tender and also without fulfilling necessary documentation".

This led to a loss of Rs 6.33 crore to the exchequer, it said. The area allotted to the company for running booths was on "higher side" as compared to terms and conditions. "The additional area allotted to the said firm as a benefit to it could have otherwise generated additional revenue," it said.

Also, it said the bank guarantee submitted by the company was not in order as it submitted a guarantee from cooperative banks. As per tender documents, only a guarantee from a nationalised bank was acceptable but the officials despite knowing the company has violated the terms accepted it for "some pecuniary advantage".

Another issue highlighted in the CBI FIR is that a "vague agreement" was prepared to "cover up the misdeed committed" by the company and officials. Only two notices were issued against the company between July 2018 and August 2019 for recovery of outstanding rent.

"There have been no efforts by the officials of Commercial Section of the AAI Srinagar airport to initiate proceedings for recovery of the outstanding amount of rent and also no efforts to vacate the allotted place which is still occupied by the firm unauthorisedly," the CBI said.

In a separate FIR, the CBI said the airport officials allowed Golden Chariot Hospital Services Pvt Ltd to operate the executive lounge in the airport despite the company not paying the rent and caused a loss of Rs 47.58 lakh to the exchequer.

According to the CBI, the firm had to deposit Rs 81.34 lakh and Rs 13.55 lakh as rent. As the company allegedly did not pay the rent, the AAI encashed the bank guarantee. However, the officials did not make any effort to recover Rs 47.58 lakh. 

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