Parliament proceedings | Aircraft (Amendment) Bill cleared in Rajya Sabha

A Bill that provides three aviation regulators statutory powers and enhances the nice for violations from ₹10 lakh to ₹1 crore in a bid to enhance plane security, was handed by Parliament on Tuesday after a heated dialogue in Rajya Sabha over privatisation of airports.

Parliament proceedings, Sept. 15 updates

The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which was handed by the Lok Sabha on March 17, was handed by the Upper House by voice vote.

The Bill offers statutory powers to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau. Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri mentioned the modifications have been needed in view of the expansion of the sector. The Bill empowers the aviation watchdog DGCA to levy penalties of upto ₹1 crore on airways, airports and different aviation entities.

The amendments to the Bill additionally deal with a number of regulatory shortcomings that have been highlighted by aviation watchdogs of the United Nations and the U.S., i.e the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the Federal Aviation Authority, throughout their audits on security and safety in the Indian aviation ecosystem. The modifications embrace recognising regulatory our bodies such because the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau- which have been arrange by way of numerous authorities notifications however did not have an outlined function below the mother or father Act, in addition to air navigation companies.

Also learn: Adani agrees to acquire majority stake in Mumbai airport

Crony capitalism

During the dialogue on the Bill, Congress MP Ok.C. Venugopal in his maiden speech in the House hit out on the authorities over the privatisation of six airports that had been given to the Adani Group. He demanded an inquiry into the matter, saying it was “crony capitalism” and a violation of the foundations that one firm was given all six airports.

“Airports Authority of India has become AAA — Airports Authority of Adani,” Mr. Venugopal alleged.

BJP MP G.V.L Narasimha Rao responded by saying the “real crony capitalism” was prevalent in the UPA authorities’s tenure in the 2G spectrum and coal block auctions. He mentioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal was to make air journey safer and accessible to all sections of society.

Also learn: Adani Group, Airport Authority of India ink pacts for managing Ahmedabad and two other airports

Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi mentioned as a former pilot he understood the issues dealing with the civil aviation sector. He mentioned there was must eliminate the whole Aircraft Act, 1934. On the approaching sale of Air India, Mr. Trivedi mentioned: “If Air India was not there, the private sector wouldn’t be there. So please don’t sell Air India”.

Oversight over regulators

Former Civil Aviation Minister and NCP MP Praful Patel mentioned the Bill was vital because the aviation sector grows, the laws need to be in line with worldwide necessities. However, he mentioned it was not clear how these regulators can be appointed. He additionally mentioned there was a necessity to extend the variety of airports in the nation, citing the examples of the pending Jewar and Navi Mumbai airport initiatives that have been accredited in 2007 and 2005 respectively.

Referring to the Opposition’s critique that the Bill gave the federal government superintendence over the regulators, BJP MP Lt. Gen (retired) Dr. D.P. Vats mentioned there was a necessity for “unity of command”.

Also learn: LOA for Thiruvananthapuram airport issued to Adani Group

“The government’s say should be final because the responsibility of the government is final,” he mentioned.

Replying to the controversy, Mr. Puri mentioned Mr. Venugopal had raised issues over the scarcity of air site visitors controllers and close to misses, however the authorities had recruited 1,000 air site visitors controllers in the previous three years and was near the goal of three,500 earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the method.

On the difficulty of privatisation, he cited the instance of Delhi and Mumbai airport being privatised in 2006, resulting in the AAI getting ₹29,000 crore in income that helped in growing airports in the nation.

He mentioned the six airports that have been awarded in 2018 accounted for 9% of site visitors, whereas Delhi and Mumbai accounted for 33% of site visitors and earnings.

Also learn: Congress questions Centre’s airport privatisation process

“Now, to talk in terms of six airports being given to one entity, let me just place this in perspective. When these two airports, Delhi and Mumbai, were privatised in 2006, all subsequent efforts at privatisation contained a stipulation to the effect that prior experience was necessary. So, we fell into a trap of our own making — not by this government, I don’t want to make this a political point — that unless you had previous experience, which means unless you had done either Delhi or Mumbai, you could not participate in the process, which, in effect, meant that for 15 years, no competitive open bidding could take place,” he mentioned.

He mentioned when the bidding for the Jewar airport came about not one of the earlier profitable bidders may take part.

On the COVID-19 scenario, Mr. Puri mentioned home air site visitors would return to pre-COVID ranges by the tip of the yr.

Also learn: Adani’s high bids delaying airports takeover?

Responding to criticism that Vande Bharat Mission flights to evacuate Indians stranded overseas had very excessive fares, Mr. Puri mentioned: “I made it very clear right in the beginning that an air operation like this cannot be carried out through donations or the Gurudwara Langar Society; that has to be paid. The amount we charged was the lowest ever.”

On the privatisation of Air India, he mentioned the selection was not between privatisation and non-privatisation, however between “privatisation and closing down”.

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