Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday disapproved the Centre’s decision to lease Thiruvananthapuram international airport to the Adani group, saying the government was sheltering the interest of monopolies at the expense of development, reported PTI.

“The management of the airport is handed over to a group who have no prior experience in it,” Vijayan said while addressing the state Assembly. “The Union government’s stand is to create a special monopoly in this sector according to their interest.”

This came a day after the industrial giant signed the concession agreements with the Airports Authority of India for the management, operations and development of the Thiruvananthapuram, Guwahati and Jaipur airports. The Centre had privatised these three airports along with Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru in 2019. The Adani group won the right to operate them for 50 years, surpassing even established players like GMR in the bidding process.

On January 15, The Indian Express had reported that the Adani Group won bids for the six airports despite the Ministry of Finance and NITI Aayog raising objections about the 2019 bidding process. Earlier, Newsclick had reported on how the Narendra Modi-led government bypassed norms to allow the Adani Group to gain entry into the airport business.

Vijayan on Wednesday told the House the move also came at a time when an appeal regarding the transfer of the airport was pending before the Supreme Court. Therefore, by going ahead with the contract, the Narendra Modi government “violated its assurances given to the state government” in this regard, he added.

The chief minister appealed to the Centre to “step back from its move”, adding that the privatisation drive would not help in the development of the airport. He also urged the central government to hand over the management and operation of the Thiruvananthapuram airport to the state government, which had “already proved its expertise”.

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