Opposition Congress and BJP on Saturday slammed the Pinarayi Vijayan government after it emerged through an RTI reply that the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) had hired, for legal opinion about auction of Thiruvananthapuram airport the services of a corporate law firm in which a family member of Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani is a partner.
The CPI(M)-led LDF government is protesting the decision to lease out Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani Enterprises.
On Saturday, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala said the state seeking legal advice on the bidding process from a firm owned by a close relative of Adani raises concerns. “If true, this shows a nexus between the state government and the Adani Group,” the Congress leader said. “By involving a firm close to Adani, it seems the (state) government was unable to maintain secrecy of bidding documents.”
BJP state president K Surendran ridiculed Chief Minister Vijayan for seeking consultancy service from a firm linked to Adani even while his party plans mass protests against the Adani Group taking over operations of the airport.
In reply to RTI activist Govindan Namppothiri, KSIDC, the state-run entity which took part in the airport auction on behalf of the state, said the Corporation had sought the services of Mumbai-based law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. The firm was paid Rs 55 lakh as “professional fee for bidding”, the RTI reply stated.
Paridhi Adani, a partner in the firm, is wife of Karan Adani, CEO of Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone Ltd and son of Gautam Adani.
A senior official of KSIDC said the law firm was chosen as per a government order. “They had only done legal vetting of documents and (had) nothing to do with bidding price, which was fixed by a committee headed by the Chief Secretary,” this official said.
According to the official, the Airport Authority of India, which manages the airport at present, had stated that as part of the bid there should be reports from both legal and technical consultancy. For technical consultancy, the government had selected KPMG and Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas for legal, the official said.
After the Union Cabinet ratified leasing out the airport to Adani Group, the Kerala government had sent two letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stating that the state would not cooperate in implementing the decision. Opposition Congress also joined hands in the protest.
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