Kochi: The Kerala government has moved the high court challenging the Airport Authority of India's (AAI) "arbitrary and illegal" attempt to prefer a private entity for the management of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.
In its writ petition filed on 5 March, the state government submitted that the AAI's attempt to grant the rights of operation, management and development of the airport to the Adani Enterprises Ltd was not in public interest.
It was also "violative" of the provisions of the AAI Act as well as the propriety rights of the state government as regards to the land wherein the airport was situated, it added.
The petitioner noted that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had sent a letter to the Centre offering to take up the project at the rate on par with the what was quoted by Adani Enterprises.
The state government submitted that the airport was established in 1932 on 258.06 acres of land owned by the princely state of Travancore, of which the state is the successor.
The 258.06 acres of land has been entered in revenue records as government land.
The AAI itself has admitted that only 0.05756 hectares out of the total extent of 636.57 acres of land is under its ownership.
The state government, having expertise in airport management and also creditworthiness, more than that of the private entity, which does not possess the previous experience in airport management, should be preferred in public interest, if the tariff offered by both are same, the petitioner submitted.
Last week, Vijayan had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him not to hand over the international airport to a private entity.
The Adani Group had emerged as the highest bidder for managing, operating and developing six AAI airports, including that in Thiruvananthapuram, which are to be privatised.
In his letter to the prime minister, Vijayan demanded that the airport's operation be handed over to the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport Ltd (TIAL) floated by the government-run Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC).