New Delhi, Sept. 17: The civil aviation ministry today suspended six senior officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and initiated penalty proceedings against them after a preliminary CBI probe found them favouring private firm Bhadra International India Limited in the award of the ground-handling contracts for the Calcutta and Chennai airports.
“Following complaints of irregularities in award of contract for ground-handling services by the AAI, the CBI had conducted a preliminary enquiry. The enquiry into award of contract for Chennai and Calcutta airports found that the AAI officers made certain deviations from the commercial manual in the notice inviting tender,” the ministry said in a statement.
The CBI found the financial bid of the consortium — Bhadra International India Ltd and Novia International — had been tampered with after the opening of the tender documents.
The investigative agency said the AAI officials modified the rate of royalty payable by the consortium. “These officials modified the royalty rate, which the consortium was offering, from 9.5 per cent to 19.5 per cent, which helped them to win the contract. The bids of the other two companies were much lower,” a ministry official said.
According to ministry officials, the AAI had in the tender falsely included that Bhadra International was in a “tie-up” with a Scandinavian ground-handling firm Novia International to make it eligible. “Bhadra International does not have the experience or the infrastructure to get a ground-handling contract. By loosely inserting the word ‘tie-up’, they claimed that they were partnering an international firm. Bhadra International, which is doing ground-handling work at Calcutta and Chennai airports, also allegedly showed the turnover and experience of Novia International to get the tender,” the official said. Officials said Novia might not be aware of the forgery committed by the accused company.
Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh has ordered immediate suspension and initiation of major penalty proceedings against AAI executive director (commercial) L.L. Krishnan, deputy general manager (finance) R.L. Saran, additional general manager (commercial) S. Basu, DGM (operations) Arun Mehan and P.K Chadha and general manager Ravi Verma.
Singh has also ordered the filing of FIR against Prem Bajaj, MD of Bhadra International, retired executive director (commercial) R.V. Narayanan, retired ED (finance) A.K. Dubey and others for manipulating, forgery, criminal breach of trust and conspiracy and corruption.