Saturday, February 04, 2006

Airport strike ...

The airport strike continues, but is reported to end soon after the Prime Minister's intervention.

A report in Rediff about the strike is very interesting: What is the airport strike all about?

[...]
Why are the Communists supporting the strike?
Communist leaders say they not protesting against the 'modernisation' of these airports. They argue that all the airports in the country, especially the biggest ones like the Mumbai and Delhi airports, should be modernised and made world-class. "But in the name of modernisation, what the government has done is to virtually sell the airport to a consortium of companies. We are all for modernisation of airports; but we are dead against their privatisation," says M K Pandhe, president, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, which is affiliated to the Communist Party of India-Marxist.

What is the alternative suggestion from the Communist/employees unions?
They assert that instead of awarding the contract for modernising the airports to private companies, the government should allow the AAI to build world-class airports. They have been arguing that AAI is a profit making company with reserves and surplus funds of Rs 30,000 crore (Rs 300 billion) and almost zero-debt status, which can meet the anticipated expenditure for development of the airports.
The AAI Employees Union has in fact submitted a airport modernisation plan to the government. But the government says their plan was evaluated and it scored less than 50 per cent in the technical evaluation, not making the cut even after revisions by the bid document.

If the above is true, makes me wonder why the government is privatizing a profit making venture sitting on Rs. 30,000 crore of reserves. If the plan submitted by AAI Employess Union was technically not sound, it seems the government can setup up a committte/panel to make/rectify the technical plan and make it up to the mark. Is that reason enough to dispose off a public propert? There is a strong opinion that the workers are irresponsible and fear job less due to privatization, but that is only part of the story. Who is questioning the ministers/government officials who decide it is better to privatize than put the Rs. 30,000 crore to effective use?

2 comments:

Hema Raghavan said...

AAI authorities have their own blog:
http://www.aaiforum.blogspot.com/

Purushottam said...

The blog is not very current sadly.
But the first post in Sept. 2004 gives an indication of the AAI's opposition to privatization since then and of them submitting a plan for modernization---which incidently tge government has turned down on tehcnical grounds.