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Calcutta question

New Delhi, Jan. 31: After Delhi and Mumbai, itís the turn of Calcutta and Chennai airports to be modernised.

While Chennai poses no apparent political challenge, Calcutta, the capital of the Red bastion, may be a difficult airport to privatise. Officials connected with the effort said the government is divided.

It is considering setting up a special purpose vehicle, which will source funds from banks and other investors, and letting the Airports Authority of India (AAI) carry out the modernisation in tie-up with foreign airports. The Left supports this model.

But many, including finance minister P. Chidambaram, want the two airports to be privatised.

The third alternative is to let the AAI modernise and manage the airside of the airport ' parking bays, etc. ' while letting private bidders upgrade the cityside with its shopping malls, hotels, aircraft counters and baggage handling.

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