With Efforts by Social Activists ‘ADANI’ Name Removed from M’lore International Airport Sign Boards
Mangaluru : In October 2020, Mangaluru was one of the six state-run airports that were awarded to Adani Group after the bidding process under the first phase of airport privatisation. The Adani Group took over the Mangalore International Airport on October 31, 2020, and started the commercial operations there. The airport was a state-run airport operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
Later social activists and the Airport Employees Union had filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court in February 2021, challenging the Union government’s decision to hand over the Mangaluru airport to Adani Enterprises Ltd, stating that the privatization of airports is illegal, arbitrary and beyond the scope of the Airport Authority Act, 1994. The petition filed by the Airports Authority Employees Union at the Mangaluru airport has said that handing over the airport is not only “without the authority of law but also has a larger impact on the public as well as a large number of employees.” The Karnataka High Court had reserved orders in this petition.
The petition said that at the outset itself, there was no proper examination of the proposal by the Union government, and contrary to the international standards, as well as the normal bidding process, there was no base price fixed. Thus, the bid was beyond the analysis of profit and loss calculations, the plea said. Another major opposition raised was that under Section 12A of the Airports Authority of India Act, 1994, only certain functions of the airport can be leased out. “Under Section12-A of the Act, only certain functions of the Airport can be Leased Out and the concession agreement, as in this case, is much beyond the scope of the provisions of the Act,” the plea said.
“It is only the premises of the Airport which are necessary for doing the activities and for incidental services such as management of hotels, restaurants, postal services that can be leased out and not the entire airport itself. Therefore, Section 12 does not contemplate handing over the entire Airport in the name of the lease and assigning all its functions to a private entity. Any other type of parting with the property of the Authority is not contemplated under the Act,” the plea said.
The petition has alleged that everything at the airport has been leased out. LiveLaw reports that on behalf of the petitioners, the counsel argued before the High Court that runways, taxiways, aircraft rescue, fire buildings — which are part of the air traffic service — have also been leased out, which is in violation of the Airports Authority Act. Section 12(1) of the Act states, “It shall be the duty of the Authority to provide air traffic service and air transport service at any airport and civil enclaves.” The Act also states that some functions at the airport can be leased out only if it does not affect the functions of the Authority under section 12, which relates to air traffic service or watch and ward at airports and civil enclaves.
Moreover, the petition added that the private entity will have the power to hike non-traffic charges such as X-ray screening charges, passenger service fees, duty-free shop charges and other fees for arranging facilities at the airport — the burden of which will fall directly on the passengers. “The entire bidding process is without the authority of law and tainted by high levels of irregularities in the bidding process,” the plea added. The plea has asked the Karnataka High Court to declare that the entire bidding process as “illegal and without the authority of law,” as far as Mangaluru airport is concerned. It states that none of the provisions of the Airports Authority of India Act permits parting with the property with the private sector.
Social Activist Dilraj Alva
And now the good news is that our local social activists who were part of the fight against Adani’s name being incorporated on every Mangaluru International Airport signboards at the entrance and in the vicinity have won the battle, with ADANI name being removed from every sign airport signboards here. Briefing the media during a press conference held at Hotel Ocean Pearl, Mangaluru on Saturday, 11 September Social Activist Dilraj Alva said, “It’s a BIG victory for us after our legal battle was undertaken, where we wanted Adani Group name removed from all the Mangaluru airport signboards. And now Adani Group was forced to remove their names (Adani) from the airport sign boards effective, Friday, September 10”.
“We had raised our objections after Mangaluru International Airport was renamed as Adani Mangaluru airport after it was handed over to Adani Group for handling the operations in October 2020. We, along with other locals, wanted the Adani name changed and an appeal in this regard was submitted to the officials of the airport. Our efforts and protests have proved results, where now the name of the airport has been changed back to Mangaluru International Airport, It should be that Adani Group had changed the name board of the airport after it took over the handling of operations of the same. However, it was known through RTI that there was no scope for changing the name of the airport in the agreement that took place between Mangaluru International Airport and Adani Group. We won the battle, and Adani lost,” added Dilraj Alva.
Rithesh D’Souza and Rakshan Poojary, both social activists were also present during the press meet.