From Sudip Sharma Chowdhury
GUWAHATI : The first phase of a mass signature drive launched by the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) to demand the withdrawal of the decision to hand over the Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport of Borjhar to Adani Group ended on Saturday. The program was launched on August 9 by the party at the airport gate of Borjhar. Today, on the last day of the week-long campaign, more than 500 people signed a letter of protest against the govt. decission to to hand over the airport. Lurinjyoti Gogoi, President of the AJP, while presiding over today’s program, said that this was the beginning of a mass awareness campaign launched by the party.
The party will continue to protest against the move by the BJP government to hand over profitable enterprises of the country to giant private companies. As a next step in forming a public opinion against the decision of handing over the airport, the party will launch an online public signature drive. The Govt. Of India has taken the decission to hand over the Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport to Adani Group for 50 years. From October, the private company will take over the operation, development and management of the airport. Earlier, on August 9, the Adani Group took over the charge of supervision of the airport. Prior to the official assumption of responsibility, the Adani Group had, reportedly, directed the employees working at the airport to vacate their residences and directed the traders to close their shops outside the airport premises.
The Assam Jatiya Parishad has been protesting against the move the very beginning. Earlier, memorandums were sent to the Central Government and the Airport Authority of India (AAA) requesting it to reverse the decision. On August 9, outside the airport perimeter, the AJP launched a public signature drive campaign to raise awareness about the issue, although it was postponed that day due to police obstruction. On the other day, permission was sought maintaining the full Covid Protocol which was denied. While AJP workers started collecting signatures on August 10, police detained and grilled them till late evening. Lurinjyoti Gogoi, president of the party, led the program today, the last day of the week-long mass signature drive. At the signing ceremony, which was attended by few hundred leaders and activists, Gogoi said that the airport, named after Lokopriya Gopinath Bordoloi, one of the foremost and most proft-making airports of the country, would not at any cost be allowed to be handed over to the private sector.
On the other hand, AJP President Lurinjyoti Gogoi and General Secretary Jagdish Bhuyan said in a seperate press release that the Lokopriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport is one of the most profitable airports in the country. A state-of-the-art terminal has already on constructed at the airport at a cost of Rs 1,232 crore. The total amount of money has been spent from the government fund. In whose interest is the government now handing over the airport to the Adani group after the airport was constructed at the expense of the government?
The government has said it wants to privatize the airport for the benefit of passengers, although high rates will be charged in the name of providing passenger facilities. Therefore, the government’s argument is not justifiable. It is also clear that the Adani Group, which has already started preparations for high-rate collection of ground handling and parking at the airport, has completed preparations for the massive looting. In such a scenario, Gogoi and Bhuyan said that supporting the handing over the airport to the Adani group would be an act against the people and therefore the airport would not be allowed to be handed over to the Adani group.