MINISTRY REBUTS CAG ON AIR
Ministry of Civil Aviation asks CAG Vinod Rai for opportunity to clarify legalities of deal with its private partner DIAL
The Ministry of Civil Aviation ( MCA) has written to the Comptroller and Auditor General ( CAG) of India Vinod Rai, saying it is incorrect to say that undue benefits were accorded to the private partner Delhi International Airport Limited ( DIAL), in the Delhi Airport modernisation project.
Referring to CAG’S draft performance audit report on “Implementation of Public- Private Partnership projects: Delhi Airport— A case study”, Nasim Zaidi, who retired as civil aviation secretary on July 31, wrote to Rai on June 26 that the ministry should be given an opportunity to clarify its position with all records, to prevent inaccuracies creeping into the final report. Zaidi said MCA had forwarded its comments on the draft audit report on March 12. This was followed by an exit meeting on March 16, where it was agreed that MCA officials would have a second round of discussions with the auditors before finalising the report.
“However, this has not been captured clearly in the minutes, and this process has not been carried out,” he wrote. The exit meeting was attended by Zaidi, other ministry officials, representatives of the Airports Authority of India ( AAI), Airport Economic Regulatory Authority ( AERA) and DIAL. According to Zaidi, the AERA chairman, Yashwant S. Bhave, had clarified many points where he had felt the understanding of the audit was not correct.
Zaidi stated that some of the issues mentioned in the draft report have been resolved, which include “Concession Period, Right to First Refusal, Upfront Fee, the basis of fixing Rs 6.19 crore for additional 190 acres of land allotted by AAI, levy of Development Fee, categorisation of aeronautical and non- aeronautical services, and the Till system”.
While Zaidi alleged that some of the points discussed in the exit meeting were not part of the minutes, he said there were several aspects that found their way into the minutes, which were neither discussed nor included in the draft report. He wanted
TERMS AND CONDITIONS IN THE BID DOCUMENT WERE REVIEWED BYAN EMPOWERED GROUP OF MINISTERS AND APPROVED BYCABINET.
these to be addressed by CAG, with MCA given a chance to clarify its stand on certain issues, including commercial exploitation of land.
Zaidi said that the issue of leasing of an additional 190.19 acres of commercial land, that was valued at Rs 1,29,639.21 crore, to DIAL by AAI, was raised by the audit team and clarified by MCA. The ministry claimed that the additional land was only meant for operations of aeronautical services and had no commercial value, and suggested that CAG drop this point, to which the audit team seemed to have agreed.
However, the minutes of the exit meeting mentioned the figure of Rs 1.63 lakh crore, which would accrue to DIAL as lease rentals over a period of 58 years from 240 acre of land meant for commercial exploitation. This was never discussed in the exit meeting, and the ministry was not given a chance to explain its stand.
MCA said the figure of Rs 1.63 lakh crore was grossly misleading. “It is