Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him not to hand over the Thiruvananthapuram airport contract to businessman Gautam Adani. Last month, the Adani Group won a bid to operate five airports, in Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Lucknow, Mangaluru and Jaipur.

But Vijayan told Modi on Thursday that the state-owned Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation Ltd-led company, formed for the purpose of operating the airport, should be given the facility, PTI reported. “If this new company is handed over the running of the airport, then the interests of both the state and the Centre would be protected,” Vijayan told the prime minister.

“It’s surprising how come a private company has bagged the right to run the airport even when this particular company has no experience in running airports,” the chief minister said. “In Kerala, two airports [Kochi and Kannur] are run by specially formed companies under the Kerala government and are doing well.

He said that the state government had taken over more than 650 acres of land for the airport and given it to the company for free. “There is a clause in the agreement that, if in future, the airport is handed over to a private company, then the value of the land given for free for the airport by the state government should be converted into equity of the state government,” Vijayan told the prime minister.

Vijayan pointed out that the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation has already moved the High Court challenging the tender process through which Adani was chosen as the winning bidder. The corporation had taken part in the bidding, representing the state government. The chief minister said the Kerala High Court has ruled that any decision on finalising the tender should be taken after the court verdict.