New Chairman of AAI is Alok Sinha
New Delhi: Alok Sinha, a Joint Secretary in the Civil Aviation Ministry, today took over as the new Chairman of Airports Authority of India (AAI) replacing V P Agrawal who headed the state-run airports body for five years.
Sinha, who handles airport-related matters in the Ministry, has been given additional charge of the post till a new Chairman is found, official sources said.
Agarwal, whose term ended in December, was asked to continue in the post from January one till further orders.
The sources said the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) declined to allow him an extension. Agrawal, who still has one-and-a-half years of service left, had risen from the AAI ranks to become the Chairman.
His tenure saw the modernization of a large number of major airports as also that of several non-metro ones, besides the joint development of India’s satellite-based navigation system GAGAN, which would be operationalised by June-July.
Agrawal’s sudden exit came at a time when the government was on a fast-track mode to privatise six airports, recently modernized by the AAI at a cost of several thousand crore rupees from the public exchequer.
Government had last September allowed private parties to pick up 100 per cent equity in operation and management of these airports at Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Lucknow through public-private partnership.
Several meetings of an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) have been taking place on a regular basis in the past few weeks to take the privatization process forward at a break-neck speed. The IMG is understood to have suggested the creation of a Group of Ministers to take the process forward.
This is being apparently done to conclude the privatization process before the Model Code of Conduct for the general elections becomes effective.
The privatization move has not only been opposed by AAI employees but also by the parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, headed by senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury.