Kerala MPs to oppose leasing out of Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani

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Thiruvananthapuram: After a meeting of MPs from Kerala, convened by CM Pinarayi Vijayan ahead of monsoon session of Parliament session, on Monday decided to exert pressure on the Central government in both the Houses against its move to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram international airport here to the private sector.

According to official sources, Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor stuck to his position, backing the Centre's move to lease out the airport for 50 years to Adani Enterprises. All the MPs from Kerala cutting across party lines supported the state government's stand on the issue.

The meeting was convened as per the practice of holding discussions with the MPs ahead of Parliament sessions on issues that need to be raised.

Addressing the MPs via videoconference, Vijayan said the state government would not cooperate with the Centre if it went ahead with the decision to lease out the airport to Adani Enterprises Ltd.

Urging the Centre to re-examine its decision, Vijayan said the operation and management of the airport be handed over to the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in which the state government has a stake.

The Chief Minister noted that the state government has experience in managing the airports in Kochi and Kannur in Public Private Participation, the sources said. When the issue surfaced last month, Tharoor had supported the Centre's decision, saying that he was speaking in the best interests of his constituency.

He had tweeted, saying "the people of Thiruvananthapuram want a first-class airport worthy of the city's history, status and potential."

Last month, the Kerala Assembly had passed a "unanimous resolution" demanding the withdrawal of Union Cabinet's decision to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani Enterprises Ltd.

The meeting of MPs also decided to resist in Parliament the divestment process of Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) initiated by the Central government.

Noting that the Kochi refinery of the BPCL was set up with the support of the state government, the MPs urged the Centre to retain the company in the public sector, that too in view of the decision to expand the project spending thousands of crores of rupees. 

The meeting decided to urge the Centre to urgently provide the due GST compensation amount of Rs 7,000 crore to the state and extend the moratorium on bank loans till December 31 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

The meeting also unanimously opposed the move to withdraw the Dictionary of Martyrs of Indias Freedom Struggle, jointly published by the Union Ministry of Culture and the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) in the backdrop of the ongoing controversy over the inclusion of names of the 1921 Malabar rebellion leaders Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji and Ali Musaliar in it, the sources said.

Other key decisions

• Privatisation of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) should be abandoned. The Kochi refinery was set up by the Government of Kerala. Financial support of Rs 1,500 crore was also provided. A petrochemical park of Rs 25,000 crore in Kochi using the refinery has also been decided to be set up. 

• Kerala has to get Rs 7,000 crore GST compensation from the Centre till July. This amount must be paid along with 5 years compensation.

• The moratorium on bank loans should be extended to December 31 and interest should be deducted. 

• Special grant should be made for the States in the view of COVID-19 pandemic.

• Development of national highways should be expedited.

• States should be given more discretion to spend from the disaster relief fund.

• A sum of 220 crore needs to be received from the Centre for the procurement of paddy. 

• Central allocation for Jaljeevan Mission for providing drinking water to rural households should be increased from 50 to 75 per cent.

• The process of setting up AIIMS in Kerala should be expedited.

• The Centre should give environmental clearance for setting up a Coast Guard Academy at Kannur's Azheekal Port.

 (With inputs from PTI)

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