Karan Adani (File photo)
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala government’s intention in participating in the bid for Trivandrum International airport has come under a cloud following a revelation that it had engaged a firm which has close ties with Adani group as its legal consultant for the bid. Adani group was the major competitor for the government agency KSIDC and eventually won the bid by quoting 20% higher than that offered by KSIDC.
Records obtained under RTI Act reveal that the government had engaged law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, paying it Rs 55 lakh as fee for legal services rendered for participating in the airport bid. Paridhi, daughter of Cyril Shroff, the co-owner of the law firm, is the wife of Karan Adani, son of Gautam Adani. Karan Adani is personally looking after the Vizhinjam seaport project, being built by Adani group.
The Adani group had won the bid for the airport by quoting Rs 168 crore as against the state government’s bid of Rs 135 crore. “The firm was engaged after inviting expression of interest, and was selected by the transport department after a due process. It is one of the leading law firms in the country. The rate quoted by the state was decided upon by a committee consisting the chief secretary, finance secretary and transport secretary and the law firm had nothing to do with it or was aware of the rate quoted by the state,” said a source.
Opposition member Ramesh Chennithala said if the news is true, it is nothing but an illegitimate deal between the government and Adani Group. That it was the same firm which has been giving legal advice to Adani group and the state government raises several questions and the government has to give an explanation, he said.
KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran said the government connived with Adani group for the airport’s takeover. BJP state president K Surendran said the government’s double-dealing has come to light. The government had spent Rs 2 crore for the bidding, when the Centre had decided to privatise operations of six airports, including Thiruvananthapuram.
As per an RTI reply received from the KSIDC, the main chunk of this expense was on engaging KPMG as the technical consultant for the bid. The other expenses include the fee for Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, bid processing fee for AAI, and commission for bank guarantee.