The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Airport in AAI pocket: Karat

Calcutta, May 28: The CPM said today the Airports Authority of India had already done some preparatory work on Calcutta airport.

'Global tenders have been given out, for example, for supply of aerobridges,' CPM general secretary Prakash Karatsaid after a politburo meeting.

'In building and modernisation of airports, AAI is fully competent. In fact, AAI will be doing it for Calcutta airport, that is our information.'

It is for the government to announce who would finally be doing the job.

The CPM had opposed the modernisation of Mumbai and Delhi airports by private agencies, but had let it progress on the understanding that in the future the AAI would be performing the task.

Karat said the Centre had argued that modernisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports should be done by private parties as the AAI's funds would be required for other airports.

'However, the government is now trying to privatise Calcutta, Chennai and other airports also. AAI is a profit-making body and has the capacity and resources to undertake modernisation,' Karat said.

His party does not have any objection to private parties being involved in building new airports. 'In the case of greenfield projects, such discussions (on private involvement) can be held.'

He denied reports that chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had written to civil aviation minister Praful Patel seeking modernisation of Calcutta airport on the Delhi and Mumbai model.

'We have checked up the matter and politburo had issued a statement refuting it. The chief minister himself said no such letter was written by him,' Karat said.

The decisions taken at the two-day politburo meeting here will be placed before the central committee in Hyderabad next month.

Victory rally

At a Left Front rally at the Netaji Indoor Stadium to celebrate its election victory, Jyoti Basu lashed out at the Election Commission for 'insulting the people of Bengal' by conducing the polls in five phases.

'Elections have been held here peacefully since 1977 and the EC itself has given us certificates. So the decision to hold the five-phase elections is aimed at insulting our officers, government employees and policemen,' the veteran leader said.

The CPM patriarch said he had asked senior party leaders to take up the matter with the government.

The chief minister said the Left Front won on the support of only half of the electorate. 'We will have to win over those 50 per cent people who did not vote for us.'

Bhattacharjee said he would provide corruption-free government for the next five years where work culture would be of the utmost importance.

'We don't look back. Instead, our motto will be to see Bengal surge ahead of others,' he added.

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