The Press Trust of India reports that the Government’s decision to shut down the old Bangalore airport could come under fresh legal scrutiny with a parliamentary panel asking civil aviation ministry to respond to charges of “irregularities” in the concession agreement it has signed with the airport developer.
Quoting records of its hearings with the ministry, Airports Authority of India, its employees and the private Bangalore International Airport Limited, the panel said that the clause relating to the old airport closure was brought into the concession agreement “at a later stage… After a demand was made to this effect by BIAL”.
In its report on the functioning of private airports, the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture said the concession agreement initially prepared and approved by the Union Cabinet “did not provide for the closure of the Hindustan Aeronautical Limited Airport” in Bangalore.
However, the July 2004 agreement actually signed with BIAL had a clause making it obligatory on the government to notify that the old airport would not be available for commercial civil aviation operations from the date the new greenfield airport became operational, it said.
The Committee, headed by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, said the AAI Employees Union (AAEU) had quoted the Aircraft Act to point out that an airport could be closed down only if security of the country and safety of aircraft were endangered. “In the given case of the HAL Airport, both these reasons are not present.”