Social media platforms are awash with posts that allege that the central government has sold the ownership of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International airport in Ahmedabad to Adani Airports, one of the companies owned by the Adani Groups.
Scores of Congress supporters, in their bid to accuse Modi government of indulging in crony capitalism, actively shared the posts on their social media accounts, alluding that a company owned by Gautam Adani is bestowed with the proprietorship of the Ahmedabad airport.
The National Convenor of Congress, Saral Patel, shared a picture of welcome hoarding at the Ahmedabad which carried the logo and named of Adani airports that are entrusted with the task of managing the airports. “Sharing without comment,” Saral tweeted, in an attempt to imply that the airport is now owned by the Adani group.
Sharing without comment. pic.twitter.com/rBiI5xZZHb— Saral Patel (@SaralPatel) December 11, 2020
Responding to Saral’s tweet, a social media user commented that similar to the welcome signage at the Ahmedabad airport, the new parliament will also have an identical hoarding along with the company logo.
We will have similar hoarding at the new Parliament house…— 𝘗𝘳𝘪𝘺𝘢 𝘠𝘢𝘥𝘢𝘷 (@priyapyadav18) December 11, 2020
Welcome to New Parliament with company logo.
Another Congress supporter, Saket Gokhale, took to Twitter to allege that PM Modi has given out airports for free to Adani.
“Modi giving out airports for free to Adani is a much bigger foot massage. Didn’t hear you complain about that, sanghis,” Gokhale tweeted.
Modi giving out airports for free to Adani is a much bigger foot massage. Didn’t hear you complain about that, sanghis.— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) December 12, 2020
Soon enough, other Congress supporters and sympathisers bought into the propaganda and started criticising the government, demonising the private businesses and fear-mongering that the centre would one day sell the entire nation to the corporate business owners.
Welcome to Adanistan + Ambanistan https://t.co/cKjqk13Ed4— Akram SVN (@Akramsvn02) December 12, 2020
Today Ahmedabad & Tomorrow it will be ur Town ,Modi Giving Everything to his Corporate Bosses in half the price & Country Paying the Price This Gulami is even Worst Thn Angrezo ki Gulami for Country ,But can’t teach him ,he is Savarkar Followers & Savarkar was Angrezon ka Pithoo. https://t.co/RdijysjDd8— chetan (@chetan4_U) December 12, 2020
Has the Centre sold the ownership of Ahmedabad Airport to Adani Group?
Contrary to what the Congress supporters would have us believe, the central government has not transferred the ownership of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International airport in Ahmedabad to Adani Airports for “free”. In fact, Adani Airports is simply involved in managing the operations of the Ahmedabad Airport, just like the GMR Group, an infrastructure behemoth, manages the operations of the Indira Gandhi Airport in Delhi. Besides, Adani Airports had won the contract to manage the airports through a competitive bidding process.
In November 2018, the central government had cleared the privatisation of six AAI-run airports—Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Jaipur, Thiruvananthapuram, Mangaluru and Lucknow—on a public-private partnership model. Following this move, the aviation ministry announced fixed concession fee per passenger as the bidding criteria for selecting bidders as against revenue sharing basis model adopted at the time of privatisation of Mumbai and Delhi airports which happened in 2006 when Congress-led UPA was in power.
As many as 32 technical bids were received from 10 companies to operate these six airports. Adani Airports, through a competitive bidding process, won the mandate to operate all the six government-owned airports for the lease period of 50 years. The Adani Group offered ₹177, ₹174, ₹171, ₹168, ₹115 and ₹160 for Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Thiruvananthapuram, Mangaluru and Guwahati airports, respectively.
According to the Commercial Banking company ICRA, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) would generate annual revenue of Rs 1300 crore from all the six airports.
After taking control of the Mangaluru and Lucknow airport, the Adani Airports was handed over the Ahmedabad Airport by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in November 2020. Following this, the group had put up signage inside and outside the airport that carried its name, which is a normal procedure. According to a report published in Business Today in September 2020, Adani Group had to make a total payment of about Rs 1,000 crore and Rs 375 crore for the security of the three airports. As of September 2020, the conglomerate had already deposited money for two airports and was in the process of depositing the amount for the third one.
In contrast to the allegations levelled by the Congress supporters that the Centre has transferred the ownership of Ahmedabad Airport to Adani Group for “free”, the Modi government has leased out the operational management of the Ahmedabad Airport to Adani Airports through a competitive bidding process, through which the Airports Authority of India (AAI) stands to gain revenue.