Almost every other day, its become like a ritual, we read about how the Adani group has got an order. The orders are all high ticket and always from the Govt, making us wonder whether Adani is the only group in the country which bids today or others are simply not even considered. Aren’t we risking the entire country’s infra build by putting all eggs in one basket – the basket of Adani’s.
This worry resurfaces time and again but now the group winning the bids for all six airports to be privatized is really rubbing crony capitalism onto our faces.
We were happy when the Govt first announced that six airports were to be privatized but one group, that too, Adani, with no prior experience whatsoever getting all the six is shocking. The Govt might have as well just issued a Press Release stating that it was handing it all over to Adani’s. The company will take control of the airports in Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangaluru, Jaipur, Thiruvananthapuram, and Guwahati; these will be leased for operation, management, and development in a public-private partnership (PPP) model and Adani Enterprises, which won the “bid” did so because it offered to share the highest revenue-per-passenger with AAI during a bidding process that concluded in February 2019.
Others who had bid too were GMR Group, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), Fairfax India, AMP Group, and PNC Infratech. None of them were worthy enough?
All this will come under a newly formed company – Adani Airports. Obviously, this company will also be listed eventually. Adani’s have monetized almost every single venture and this will be no different.
Adani is also making a bid to take over 74% stake in Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MAIL), which in turn will give it ownership of the upcoming Navi Mumbai airport, in which MIAL holds 74% stake. This is expected to cost Adani’s some Rs.15,000 crore and for the six airports, it is said to made the deal at Rs.31.5 trillion or Rs.31,50,000 crore. Where does Adani get all this money? How come this group gets all debt sanctioned while others talk about struggling to get money?
So, slowly but surely, what we are seeing is that this one group is becoming a monopoly in airports, power, energy distribution, ownership of ports and we could soon hear it winning all or majority of the trains proposed to be privatized.
Maybe the environment is such that no one is really interested; most of India Inc’s balance sheet is leveraged to the hilt and the pandemic has made it now into a survival battle. Adani seems to have no such issues and dealing with the red tape in the Govt seems to be cakewalk. Thus it is making most of its “contact” in the Govt and winning every bid, getting finance equally easily.
But the risk is always in creating a monopoly. Businessmen are not altruistic; their aim is to make maximum profits, so isn’t the risk in the long term evident? And we have seen what happens when all orders go to come group – the example of Anil Ambani winning the UMPPs and then Metro projects is there for all to see.
Thus creating monopolies on the back of crony capitalism does not exactly show us as a thriving, dynamic and competent economy. We are today essentially a country run by two A’s – Ambani and Adani.
We are creating oligarchs today and that, for a country with majority living in poverty bodes ill.