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AAI seeks legal opinion on ground handling contracts

CBI had found irregularities by AAI officials while awarding contracts

Written by Mihir Mishra | New Delhi | Published: October 17, 2012 1:27:27 am

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has sought legal opinion on cancelling the ground handling contracts awarded to Bhadra International at seven of its airports in the country.

“We are taking a legal view on the issue of cancelling the contract awarded to Bhadra International. The decision on the cancellation of contract will be taken on the basis of the legal opinion,” said a top AAI official. He added that the issue of award is also sub judice and they expect the order to come in a week’s time. “Once the court’s order is out,we will be free to initiate actions against the company,” he added.

The process to cancel the contract was initiated after a Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) enquiry had found several irregularities by the employees of AAI in the award of ground handling contracts for the seven airports.

The airports are: Kolkata,Chennai,Thiruvananthapuram,Coimbatore,Kozhikode,Mangalore and Tiruchirappalli.

After the enquiry report was complete,the civil aviation ministry ordered suspension of six employees. The ministry had also ordered the filing of FIR against Prem Bajaj,MD of Bhadra International India Ltd,which got the contract,and two retired AAI officials for manipulation,forgery,criminal breach of trust,criminal conspiracy and corruption.

The investigation report by CBI had found that the joint venture tie-up arrangement (JVTA) company between Denmark-based Novia International Consulting APS and Bhadra International India Ltd did not have the required five years experience and did not meet the minimum annual turnover qualification norm.

It also said that in the bids for Kolkata and Chennai airports,the lead partner in the joint venture company did not have the minimum five years ground handling experience. The experience shown by the JVTA company was of the lead partner’s entire group company. Likewise,the minimum annual turnover clause of Rs 200 crore was also forged by showing the revenues of lead partner’s entire group company,which was against the tender condition.

The tie-up arrangement was made with Novia International Consulting APS,which was in the business of consultancy and not ground handling operations.

The enquiry report also found that a sister company of Bhadra International,TDI International,also owned by Prem Bajaj,already had an outstanding of Rs 36 crore to AAI in an advertising contract.

Despite such an outstanding,the tenders of company owned by the same person was awarded the contract,as the AAI officials deliberately failed to incorporate suitable conditions in the notice inviting tender.

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