March 26, 2013
At the Aviation Day organised jointly by IATA, GMR and CII today, even as Tony Tyler, DG and CEO of IATA - his third speech in India in less than a year- spoke about the need for infrastructure and a cut in high taxation rates, there was many a slip between the cup and the lip of our civil aviation minister, Ajit Singh.
I'm trying not to be cynical, but cetainly noticed some urgent issues dodged. "Navi Mumbai development may not be done as envisaged...." Really? That should be news to those waiting for years for it to happen! "Juhu Airport Upgradation (is being planned)." Since when? Given that the runway size has been decreased, now being used only by helicopters (possibly due to lobbying by the land lobby? We could not confirm this).
And the always-soon-to-be released Civil Aviation Policy? Mr Tyler, however noble your thoughts may be, the question is, does this minister, or even the minister before him, really want to release the policy? Perhaps, so that it can remain adhoc and AACs can come and go and come back again?, we wonder. Was it a coincidence that a question asked by the doyen of tourism Subhash Goyal, on a deadline for the policy was met with a "Do you believe in a deadline by the government?"
No Mr Minister, we don't. But you said it. Not us.
Singh is taking his job lightly. He dismissed a question on wildlife hazard management and safety at airports - a subject on which billions of dollars are spent worldwide- with a joke that not many understood as most in the audience were reeling from the shock. He ended up talking about a 'dead cat' (reference Jet Airways) which again, was far from funny.