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Prosecute GMR and its cohorts: CSHF
Demanding that the ongoing collection of user development fee should be stopped immediately and people responsible for the loss to the exchequer be prosecuted, the Congress Secular Hindu Forum (CSHF) has asked the government of India to take all steps to take back the money illegally collected by the GMR.

CSHF GENERAL Secretary K Ravi Kumar, in a statement, said Monday that the recently published `CAG’ report confirmed, despite that the government's claims of transparency, it has been pushed to the wall with no ammunition to defend itself. It also asked the government to recover the huge wealth handed over to the DIAL through illegal methods.

According to Kumar, it is equally important that the infrastructure development projects undertaken through public private partnership (PPP) mode are also mired in similar controversies. “There is no level playing field and transparency either in these agreements or the execution of these projects. The malpractices carried out by the private developer- the GMR owned DIAL – in the name of developing the Delhi airport has also the blessing of our Prime Minister with his passive attitude. The `PMO’, the Civil Aviation Ministry, and the Delhi International Air Port Ltd. (DIAL) have actively colluded with the developer (GMR) to amass an amazing quantum of wealth through numerable conspiracies,” Kumar alleged.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has criticized development fee charged on passengers at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Allowing development fee of Rs 200 for domestic and Rs 1300 for international passenger gave `GMR’ an undue monetary benefit of Rs 3,415 crore. This levy has violated the bid conditions and it shows certain recklessness to follow the original contract.

Whenever the operator has raised an issue of extra revenue, to go to it or expenditure to be debited to government, the Ministry and Airport Authority of India had always ruled in favour of the GMR Corporation, and against the government interest, in contravention of the Operation, Maintenance, and Development Agreement (OMDA). The Report further says that, DIAL has the potential to earn Rs 1,63,557 crore over a 60 year period of time. The 4,799 acres of land leased out to GMR at Rs 100 a year has just stood out an equity investment of Rs 2,450 crore. Five percent of this land or 239.5 acres, allowed for commercial use, has current value of Rs 24,000 crore. This too was given to GMR as part of 4799 acres for lease of Rs 100 per annum.

The CAG report points out that the joint venture company, shall meet all its financial requirements through suitable debt and equity contributions to comply with its obligations, including the development of the airport. The Ministry’s order on February 9, 2009, to allowing the GMR to levy a development fee for financing the upgrade, expansion or development of the airport is sheer violation of the original agreement. This order violated the provisions of Article 13.(1) of the OMDA, the AAI Act and the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) Act, later confirmed by the Delhi High Court.

The levy of development fee was a post contractual benefit given to the `GMR’, to bridging the funding gap was neither envisaged in the request for the proposal (RFP) nor included in the provisions of OMDA or the state support agreement. This led to an undue benefit of Rs 3,415 crore to the DIAL at the cost of passengers.

Another hilarious fact, according to Kumar is that, beyond all these government largesse’s Delhi Airport remains as the most expensive and prohibitive airports in the world. “The Airport charges are now increasing to a level of 334 % for domestic carriers in one year, is magically higher to 700 per cent. High airport charges are a serious problem that will ultimately increase the passenger’s burden. The thing is that, the spiraling charges in Delhi Airport had been most critical, and a result of this, more foreign airlines are postponing increasing their capacity in India. Another funny thing is that in Delhi Airport the airlines are not only paying for departing flights but also for arrivals. There is no airport in the world that does this practice,” Kumar added in the release.

All these points raised by the CAG, and other facts are pointing to the loot carried out by the GMR Corporation. The PMO and the Civil Aviation Ministry are equally responsible for this daylight loot. There is an urgent need to revisit the way PPP projects were allotted in the country, Kumar demanded.

“The aviation industry in our country has suffered a lot due to the callous attitude of former Aviation Minister Mr. Praful Patel. The cumbersome ideas carried out on the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines have paved the way for the disastrous performance of our national carrier. The cancellation of profitable routes for the benefit of private carriers has reaped immense gains for the civil aviation authorities, and the minister himself,” Kumar alleged.

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