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Airport not open to public scrutiny: official


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New airport not open to public scrutiny: official

As Reported By : Swathi Shivanand in The Hindu

 

‘Provisions of RTI Act not applicable’

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State promoters have 26 per cent stake in BIAL

‘It does not amount to substantially financing BIAL’

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BANGALORE: Soon thousands of people will start using the Bangalore International Airport at Devanahalli. Vast expanses of farmland have been acquired by the State Government to develop the greenfield airport. The State promoters have 26 per cent stake in Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), the company developing the airport.

 

Yet, the ordinary citizen cannot ask for information about the airport from its promoters apparently because the BIAL is “a company in the private sector,” is not a “public authority” and “provisions of the Right to Information Act 2005 and Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurements 1999” are not applicable.

 

This is the reply that Benson Isaac, an individual who asked for information under the RTI was told by A.R. Rajaram, head, legal, and company secretary of the BIAL. Under the RTI Act, any public authority has to suo motu declare basic information about itself.

 

In a letter to the BIAL, Mr. Isaac argued that a public authority, as defined by the RTI Act, is any body or institution that is controlled or substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate government. The 26 per cent stake by State promoters in the BIAL, Mr. Isaac contends, is enough to consider the BIAL a public authority and all rules and regulations of the RTI act are applicable to it.

Airport site

 

“The Karnataka State Industrial Investment and Development Corporation has provided the airport site to BIAL free from all encumbrances under the Land Lease Agreement. Also a State support agreement of Rs. 350 crore would be made available by the Government of Karnataka to BIAL for the purpose of this project,” Mr. Isaac said, quoting from the BIAL website.

 

Mr. Isaac also pointed out that in a similar case against the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), filed by Lt. Col (Retd) Anil Hebble, the Central Information Commission had ruled that the DIAL with 26 per cent stake of the State promoters, was a public authority. The same holds good for the BIAL too, he said.

 

Acknowledging his letter, the BIAL, in its reply on April 20, 2007, maintained that it was not a public authority and “the question of furnishing any declaration/information suo motu or otherwise does not arise and we sincerely request you to treat the matter as closed.”

 

Mr. Isaac has approached the State Information Commission. The BIAL, in its statement of objections before the commission, has disputed Mr. Isaac’s claim. It said that the 26 per cent stake of State promoters does not amount to “substantially financing BIAL;” that the relationship between the parties is that of “a creditor and debtor;” the land has been leased out to BIAL and the company does not own these lands and that the BIAL is required to pay concession fee and is also liable to pay taxes.

 

On the question of similarities with the case against DIAL, the Bangalore airport promoters say that “the facts to be looked into and appreciated, is totally different from the case of Lt. Col (Retd) Anil Hebble.”

 

The Hindu : Karnataka / Bangalore News : New airport not open to public scrutiny: official

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A similar case was decided by CIC in "Anil Heble vs. Airport Authority of India" , where the CIC has declared the Delhi International Airport Authority (DIAL) to be a Public Authority and asked to provide information.

 

Detailed decision is produced here.

 

Decision

8. The Commission heard both the sides. The Respondents maintained that on receiving the Appellant’s application, they had forwarded it to the PIO of the Airport Authority of India who in turn asked the Delhi International Airport Private Limited (DIAL) for the information. DIAL responded saying that they were not a ‘public authority’ as they held a 74% stake in the Joint Venture Company by the name of GMR. On making further enquiries, the Commission was told that the Government had a 26% stake in DIAL.

 

The Commission is of the opinion that a holding of 26 per cent is quite substantial for any company and, therefore, Section 2(1) which states that any body owned, controlled or substantially financed is a public authority is applicable to DIAL and hence they are bound by the directions of the RTI. The Commission, therefore, directs DIAL to provide the information to the Appellant. This must be done within 15 days of the issue of the order. The Commission authorises the Appellant to come back to the Commission in case the information provided is not satisfactory or incomplete.

 

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karira

As reported by TNN on timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 15 May 2008:

You can get info on BIAL under RTI-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India

 

You can get info on BIAL under RTI

 

BANGALORE: In a landmark verdict passed by the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC), the consortium company of Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) has been deemed as a 'public authority'.

 

Dwelling into the financial structure and funding patterns of BIAL, the commission found that the private-public consortia has been 'substantially financed' by the government of India under the Comptroller and Auditor General (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Services) Act 1971, or CAG Act, thus making it (BIAL) more a public enterprise than a private one.

 

Hence, now under the Right to Information Act (RTI), citizens are entitled to any information sought on BIAL. "The project (BIA) serves public purpose and the public have a right to know about the proper management of the project," the commission noted.

 

This judgment comes in pursuance of a Bangalorean, Benson Issac, seeking information on BIAL under RTI. As per Issac's argument, the government's equity (Centre & State) in BIAL is 26%, for which the government has substantially funded the enterprise bringing it under the purview of RTI.

 

In its observations, KIC, which had collected relevant information pertaining to the matter from BIAL and KSIIDC (Karnataka State Industrial Investment and Development Corporation), found that "even direct financing by the government promoters to this project (construction of the Bengaluru International Airport) is higher than the financing by the private promoters. If the indirect support, which has not been quantified, is also taken into account, the government support would be much higher."

 

As per the KIC's findings, the total investment made by the government into BIAL is Rs 434.94 crore, of which Rs 350 crore has been given as a loan under the provisions made by the State Support Agreement (SSA) that has been channelized through KSIIDC. Indirectly, the government has funded BIAL through exemptions from entry tax and property tax for five years; lease of land on concessional rent; waiver of stamp duty and registration charges; exemption from fee for change of land use; exemption from payment of road cess.

 

Also, the loan amount of Rs 350 crore will be repaid by BIAL to the government in 20 equal half yearly instalments, the first instalment of which will be only paid in the 11th financial year of the company (BIAL). Funding into BIAL from the consortium of private partners, Seimen-Zurich Airport-L&T, is to the tune of Rs 326.70 crore. A debt of Rs 1,185.09 crore has been raised through banks and financial institutions and Rs 68.50 crore raised though internal accruals.

 

The commission has directed BIAL to furnish all the details sought by Issac under RTI within the next one month.

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karira

As reported by DH News Service in deccanherald.com on 22 July 2008:

Deccan Herald - Full Bench to hear RTI issue

 

Full Bench to hear RTI issue

 

The High Court will constitute a full bench to hear the case related to bringing Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) under the RTI Act.

 

Hearing a petition by BIAL, which had challenged the June 14, 2008 order of State Information Commission to bring it under the RTI act, Justice N Kumar stated that the full bench should be constituted within a week and the matter should be decided within two weeks.

 

The BIAL had said that in the entire Rs 2000 crore outlay, only Rs 450 crore was contributed by the state. Of this, Rs 350 crore was by way of loan, the petitioner added, seeking a stay on the order.

 

The State Information Commission had directed the BIAL to appoint the RTI officer following a complaint by Benson Issac, whose query seeking suo motto disclosure application was rejected by BIAL saying it was a company with equity participation by private sector to the extent of 74 per cent and the RTI does not apply to it.

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Hello Poonam,

 

Welcome to RTIIndia.Org.

 

> how to know which is under RTI and which is not ?

 

As a thumb rule if an airport is part of Airports Authority Of India then it is invariably coming under the RTI Act, 2005. You can easily seek info from them.

 

Plz visit Airports Authority Of India

There you will find list of Airports and RTI page.

 

If it is an upcoming or recently constructed Air Port like BIAL then things are not so clear as discussed and reported in this post.

 

So watchout for this page and you will know.

 

Sidharth

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nukebomb

sirs . information on air ports is not useful or required for common man . so why seek information on airports at all ??

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karira

nukebomb,

 

You will be surprised at the type of information very valuable and useful to the common man which is held by our Airports.

 

Just try filing a RTI Application with your local airport about the parking charges for Cars and for different types of Aircraft. You will be shocked to know (at least I was) that to park a Car at Hyderabad Airport (the old one at Begumpet) was more expensive (at least 10 times more expensive) than parking a Airbus A320 or a Boeing 737.

 

nukebomb, our Government and Bureaucracy and very keen to hide facts from its citizens, sometimes for no reason at all.

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RTI Act applies to BIAL: panel

as reported by S. Rajendran The Hindu, Aug 19, 2008

 

Bangalore: A full Bench of the Karnataka Information Commission on Monday ruled that the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) is substantially financed by the Government and, therefore, “the commission has no hesitation in holding that Bengaluru International Airport Ltd. (BIAL) is a public authority as defined under the RTI Act”.

 

BIAL, which has turned down requests to reply to various petitions or give information sought by the people relating to the construction and operations of the airport, now has to reply within a stipulated time.

 

The full Bench comprising State Chief Information Commissioner K.K. Misra and Information Commissioners H.N. Krishna and K.A. Thippeswamy heard at length the matter referred to it by the Karnataka High Court.

 

A resident of Bangalore, Benson Isaac, in a petition, said that BIAL came under the purview of the RTI Act since it was substantially financed by the Union and State Governments.

 

In June, BIAL challenged an order of the State Chief Information Commissioner in the Karnataka High Court and the latter directed that a full Bench of the commission hear the matter.

 

In its reply to the petitioner, BIAL had stated that the provisions of the RTI Act or the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement, Act, 1999 were not applicable to BIAL and that it was not a public authority.

 

It had also stated that BIAL is a company with equity participation by the private sector to an extent of 74 per cent and therefore the question of furnishing information did not arise.

 

In its order passed on Monday, the full Bench said the airport serves a public purpose and the people have a right to know about the execution and management of the project.

 

The commission said the BIA was a public-private partnership project, taken up in the interests of the public, where the financing by the government promoters was much more than by the private promoters.

 

It would be a negation of fundamental rights if information about the project was not provided to the people, the commission added.

 

The Hindu : Front Page : RTI Act applies to BIAL: panel

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As reported by TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 02 September 2008:

Second terminal, runway work next year : BIAL-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India

 

Second terminal, runway work next year : BIAL

 

BANGALORE : Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) on Monday said the construction of the second terminal and the second runway would begin next year. The company said the planning process has started but Board approval was pending.

 

"I'll be happy if we can start the work by July next year. We'll need that much of time to complete the plans and finalize contractors," BIAL CEO Albert Brunner told reporters here to mark 100 days of commercial operations.

 

Brunner said the terminal - to be constructed to the east of the first terminal - would take four years to complete. It would be at least as big as the first terminal and would cost about Rs 4,000 crore. The first terminal had cost Rs 2,500 crore, but since then costs have gone up substantially.

 

BIAL has come under severe criticism for building a terminal that's barely able to handle current peak capacity.

 

BIAL says its annual passenger capacity is 11 million, only slightly higher than Bangalore's passenger traffic of over 10.5 million in 2007-08. AAI has estimated Bengaluru International Airport (BIA)'s capacity lower at 9.78 m.

 

Brunner admitted that the existing infrastructure would not be able to handle demand beyond another one-and-half years. So he's planning to build an "express terminal" to the western side in about 18 months. This terminal will not have all the facilities of the first terminal. "We hope to continue using it even after the second terminal is ready, perhaps for special purposes like something that requires high security," Brunner said.

 

Responding to criticism, BIAL has also increased toilet capacity by 70% and has ordered for more seating facilities. Brunner claimed that the baggage handling process has improved a lot.

 

On the demand for reopening HAL airport, Brunner said BIAL would "fight" it. The concessions agreement with BIAL had laid down that there would be no airport within a 150 km radius of BIA.

 

But given the capacity constraints at BIA and that the distance to the airport has almost killed short-haul flights, has pushed many to demand a reopening of HAL.

 

Brunner said the company's revenues were already below expectations because of the fall in traffic on account of the aviation slowdown. The reopening of HAL would only make matters worse. For revenue reasons , Brunner is also hoping the user development fee will come into effect quickly. The matter is awaiting government approval.

 

BIAL also said it would resist any attempt to bring it within the purview of the Right to Information Act (RTI). "If for every small thing I'm going to be questioned, I will not be able to run this company," Brunner said.

 

The government's stake in BIAL has persuaded some activists and officials to demand that the company be brought under the RTI.

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BIAL has already gone to the Karnataka High Court in this matter.

The High Court asked a full bench of the KIC to hear this matter.

The full bench of KIC has already ruled that BIAL is a Public Authority.

 

Now where will BIAL go now ?

 

Mr Brummer should realise that if he works for a Company which has a monopoly in the Airport operation of a city, then he better be answerable to even the smallest thing.

 

BAA (British Airports Authority), which in turn is owned by a Spanish Company, was recently told by the Competetion Commission in the UK that as a operator of the 7 major Airports in the UK, it should sell off or give up control of at least 3 of them. (http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2008/09/01/stories/2008090150220600.htm)

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As reported by ENS in expressbuzz.com on 17 September 2008:

Express Buzz - KIC order: To be or not to be?

 

KIC order: To be or not to be?

 

Justice N K Patil granted a stay for two weeks against the order of the KIC on August 18. The KIC held that the BIAL was a public authority as defined under section 2(H) of the RTI Act, 2005.

 

The full bench of the KIC had observed that the BIAL was substantially financed by the State Government and served a public purpose. So the public has every right to know about the execution and management of the projects.

 

The full bench further directed that Bangalore International Airport Limited should appoint an information officer for the benefit of the public.On the other hand, the Bangalore International Airport Limited has contended that that the State government has invested Rs 450 crore for the BIAL, in which Rs 350 crore was borrowed as loan. Of the total Rs 2,470 crore invested for the project, only 17.6 per cent is the State's share.

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BIAL stay extended

as reported in Express Buzz, Express New Service 01 Oct 2008

 

The High Court has extended the stay on the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) full-bench order, which held that the BIAL comes under the purview of the RTI Act. While extending the stay order, the court has also ordered that the BIAL should be open to furnish information to the public without any prejudice.

 

 

On August 18, the BIAL had challenged the KIC order that held that the BIAL was a public authority as defined under section 2 H of the RTI Act,2005. The full bench directed that the BIAL should appoint an information officer for the benefit of the public. The KIC had observed that the BIAL was substantially financed by the state government and hence, the public has every right to know about the execution and management of its projects.

 

The BIAL had contended that the State government had invested Rs 450 crore for BIAL, of which Rs 350 crore was a loan. Of the total Rs 2,470 crore invested for the project, only 17.6 per cent is the State’s share.

 

Express Buzz - Contempt notice to State Election Commission=

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As reported in thehindu.com on 13 Fenruary 2010:

The Hindu : Karnataka / Bangalore News : BIAL is a public entity: High Court

BIAL is a public entity: High Court

 

BANGALORE: In a significant judgment, the Karnataka High Court has held that Bangalore International Airport Ltd. (BIAL) is a public entity and that it has to furnish information sought for under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

 

Justice Ajit Gunjal passed the order on a petition by BIAL challenging an order of the Karnataka Information Commission directing it to furnish information to an applicant.

 

The commission had on May 14, 2008, said that BIAL is a Public Authority and it would come under the provisions of the RTI Act.

 

Benson Isaac, a resident of Bangalore, had filed an application under the Act seeking information from BIAL.

 

BIAL had declined to give information, saying that it is not an authority as defined under the Act and therefore it need not furnish any information. Mr. Issac had then moved the Information Commission.

 

The KIC said BIAL is a public entity and said it was financed by the State Government too.

 

BIAL had moved the High Court against the commission ruling.

 

Justice Ajit Gunjal dismissed the BIAL petition and held that it is a public entity.

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karira

As reported in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 08 July 2010:

HC stays BIA verdict, declares it a public unit - Bangalore - City - The Times of India

 

HC stays BIA verdict, declares it a public unit

 

BANGALORE: A division Bench stayed the single Bench verdict which not only affirmed the Karnataka Information Commission's findings but also declared that BIA is a public authority.

 

The division Bench, headed by Justice K L Manjunath, passed this interim order on a writ appeal filed by BIA, which had challenged the February 9, 2010, order of the single Bench.

 

"If on the ground of substantial contribution or holding by government, a body can be declared a public authority, then without an explanation regarding what amounts to `substantial contribution', most private companies have to be put in that category," counsel for BIA argued.

 

The contention of BIA -- whether it can be bracketed as a "state" as defined under Article 12 of the Constitution -- is still undecided as the SLP is pending before the apex court. In August 2008, the full Bench of the KIC had said BIA is a public authority and amenable under RTI Act, 2005.

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