Despite widespread and prolonged protests, the management, development and operation of Guwahati’s Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport was today handed over to the Adani Guwahati International Airport Limited in a “restricted ceremony”.
The mandate to operate the only international airport in northeast India was won by the Gautam Adani-led Adani Airport Holdings Limited earlier this year.
The “restricted ceremony” saw the Airport Director hand over a symbolic key to Utpal Baruah, who has been appointed Chief Airport Officer by AGIAL.
Earlier today the Adani Group tweeted: “We are delighted to announce the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport is now a ‘Gateway To Goodness’. We are privileged to be at your service and welcome all passengers to our airport in Guwahati.”
We are delighted to announce that the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport is now a #GatewayToGoodness. We are privileged to be at your service and welcome all passengers to our airport in Guwahati. #GuwahatiAirport#LGBIAhttps://t.co/nAisxLYfq0
— Adani Group (@AdaniOnline) October 7, 2021
The transfer of operations control, however, was not without renewed protests by opposition parties, including the Congress and the Assam Jatiya Parishad, as well as members of the Airport Authorities of India employee unions.
Visuals from a ‘silent protest’ held today showed dozens of men and women – carrying flags and placards – sitting in tents and in the sun, as uniformed police officers looked on.
A group of protesters were also seen walking along the road shouting slogans.
Protests against the Adani Group, which also controls international airports in Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Thiruvananthapuram, have been going on for months.
In August over 500 people signed a signature campaing demanding the withdrawal of operational control of the airport from the private company’s hands.
AJP president Lurinjyoti Gogoi had then said a mass campaign would be launched.
Mr Gogoi had then also pointed out the Guwahati airport was already one of the more profitable facilities in the country, and that government’s argument (of privatising the airport for the benefit of passengers) is not justifiable.”
Last year the Adani Group won a global tender put out by the Union Aviation Ministry to run the airport for period of 50 years; for the initial three years they will be supported by the AAI.
Reports say the AAI will look after security and air traffic communication in this period.
Displaced AAI employees are likely to be posted to other airports.