Agartala: A day before the formal opening of the new terminal of MBB airport here by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, opposition CPI-M on Monday urged the centre to roll back its decision to hand over the management of the airport to the Adani group.
The Left Front spearhead also demanded the centre declare the airport as an international one.
Former transport minister and senior Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Manik Dey said the new terminal was the fruit of the efforts put in by the previous Left Front government, which had spent Rs 35 crore from the state exchequer to rehabilitate as many as 78 families to arrange land for the expansion of the facility and build a modern terminal.
“The Ministry of Civil Aviation had been persuading us since 2010 to run the airport on public-private partnership but we didn’t agree because we didn’t want to privatise a most precious public property. The Left Front government had paid compensation of Rs 35 Crore for rehabilitation of the residents of the area to retain the airport with the government.
“But now the Modi government has given it to the Adani group, which we condemn and demand the centre roll back its decision,” Dey said.
He said that the importance of the Agartala airport was increasing because of the increased passenger traffic from neighbouring Bangladesh, whose citizens have been travelling to the Indian cities, mostly for medical treatment via Agartala. From the beginning, the then Left Front government has tried to persuade the centre to make it an international airport connecting Dhaka, Chittagong and other important South Asian destinations for the economic development of Tripura, Dey underlined.
“It is seen that the number of flights is higher compared to the population of this state. Hence, from where do so many flight passengers appear? After railway connectivity in 2008 following our movement, people from Barak Valley of Assam also opted for flights from Agartala,” he stated.
In 2010, the centre asked the state government whether the terminal can be constructed on the PPP model. However, after a series of discussions, the state government took the responsibility of providing land and rehabilitating the people and the centre agreed to build the airport. After continuous pressure, the Airport Authority started work for a new terminal building in 2016, Dey pointed out.
“Instead of keeping the profit-making activities with the airport authority now, the Modi government handed over its functional part to the Adani group, which is nothing but a betrayal of the people of Tripura. The Left Front will not allow this to happen. The private party will earn money using the public property. We are requesting the Prime Minister to cancel the agreement with the Adani group,” Dey added.