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`AAI forum's plan will not delay process'

Ashwini Phadnis

New Delhi , Sept. 27

THE Government's decision to examine the alternative proposal put forward by the Airports Authority of India Joint Forum (AAIJF) to modernise the airports in Delhi and Mumbai will not delay the ongoing process for restructuring the two metro airports, official sources said on Monday.

"The process of studying the Forum's report as well as the work being done on the bids which have been received can go on side-by-side. Why should there be any fears of a delay?" a senior government official asked. Sources indicated that the AAI has been "advised" to examine the proposal and report back within a month.

The sources said that at the meeting that the AAIJF members had with the Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Praful Patel, in Mumbai on Saturday last week, it was made clear that although the government was willing to have a look at the Forum's alternative proposal, there was no question of the ongoing process being either stopped or delayed.

There have been apprehensions in certain quarters that with the government agreeing to consider the alternative plan for modernisation of the two metro airports, the entire process could get delayed.

The Government has already received bids from 10 parties, including leading groups such as Reliance, Videocon, L&T and DLF. The proposals, after short-listing the parties, are expected to be sent to the four-member empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM) for its nod shortly. The Government hopes to select the successful bidders for the two airports before the end of the year.

The AAIJF, which had submitted the alternative plan to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, earlier this year had threatened to go on a one-day mass casual leave all over the country on Monday to protest the Government's move of not considering its proposal.

The Forum leaders have all along maintained that they were not against modernisation of the two airports but wanted to be part of the process.

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