Gujarat’s first perishable cargo complex built at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport two years ago could not be commissioned due to the UPA government’s central policy against permitting a third party to run its operations. With the change in guard at the Centre, there has been a few modifications in the policy, leading to a boost in export of agro-based products to overseas market, and hence, the complex is soon expected to begin operation.
Earlier, Airports Authority of India (AAI) had refused to grant a no-objection certificate (NOC), stating that the state government had violated the policy.
The cargo complex was built by the state-run Gujarat Agro Industries Corporation Ltd (GAIC) to promote export of agro products. AAI had allotted a 3,600-sqm land to GAIC for constructing the complex on a lease of Re 1 for seven years under Rashtriya Kisan Vikas Yojna (RKVY).
The constructed of the cargo complex was completed in 2012 at a cost of Rs 5 crore. However, days before its inauguration, AAI found out that GAIC had brought in a third party firm — Cargo Service Centre India Private Limited (CSC) — as a beneficiary into the scheme, without informing the authority, as per the norms.
For the past one year, BJP leaders like MP Purushottam Rupala had met several ministers in the UPA government, including then aviation minister Ajit Singh, seeking NOC for the complex. AAI officials had claimed that GAIC kept them in the dark about the MoU it had signed with CSC for managing the operation much before land was allotted for the project under Central scheme.
“The policy has been modified by the Central government and an NOC has been given to the state government to go ahead with its operation. Under the new policy, the operation and management of the cargo can be outsourced to private firm, an airport official said. Managing Director of GAIC N K Singh said, “We have got the clearance from the Centre.”