Pune: A probe has been ordered by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on the basis of an anonymous complaint by a Non Schedule Operator Permit operator (charter airline) alleging bribes were demanded by 14 senior AAI officials for giving clearances for parking aircraft and ground handling operations.
Three of the officials are from Maharashtra. They are Anil Thakur (AGM Operations), Pune; Prakash Shambharkar, ATC Mumbai and YK Sharma, ATC-in-charge of Aurangabad. The letter dated December 4, 2017 was sent to AAI Chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra, who has initiated a probe at 12 bases across the country.
According to the letter available with Sakal Times, Thakur is involved in corrupt practices while allotting parking spaces to aircraft at Pune. The letter states, "Parking at Pune is allowed by him (Anil Thakur) after making payment through preferred ground handlers and other BCAS (Bureau of Civil Aviation Security of India) cleared agencies are not permitted at Pune airport for handling."
Shambharkar is accused of giving handling services to a company preferred by him. The complaint letter says, "Shambharkar keeps pressurising us to give handling to International Aviation Services Private Limited."
Similarly, Sharma is accused of demanding money from the company. "He (Sharma) is calling our boss to give money and handling to agency of his choice and taking money from us."
When contacted, Thakur said, "We do our best to increase aircraft at Pune airport. But there are certain ground handlers who are unauthorised and are not entertained by us. It seems this complaint has been filed by some unauthorised operator."
Shambharkar's answer was similar. He said, "I am not involved in any kind of corrupt practice and have not favored any ground handling company."
Sharma was unavailable for comment.
Apart from these three, the other 11 officials mentioned in the letter are AN Sharma (Ludhiana), KC Mirdha (Dehradun), Manish Sahu and SK Singh (Jodhpur), Rajeev Puneetha (Jaisalmer), Anurag (Bhavnagar), Vivek Atri (Goa) and officials from G Madhusudan Rao (Vijaywada), Prakash Reddy (Vizag) and Prabhakar Mishra and Baghel (Agra).
The letter states, "If parking is a constraint at any airport then it should be in public domain and no operator should be permitted to park its aircraft. Also we should be given the freedom to choose Ground Handling Agency of our preference if it fulfills your (AAI) norms and standards." The letter states these officials could be caught red-handed if AAI does a sting operation.
A regional executive director of AAI, on the condition of anonymity, said, "The complaint is received and probe has been ordered. It will be conducted as per the procedures of AAI."
Officials deny charges
- The three AAI officials from Maharashtra have been accused of misusing their authority and forcing the operator to bribe them as well as assigning the handling operations to their preferred ground handlers or companies.
- Anil Thakur from Pune airport said certain handlers are not entertained by them as they are unauthorised.
- Shambharkar flatly denied involvement of any of his family members with a particular company, which incidentally has his son Apratim Prakash Shambharkar as one of the directors. The said company, which is listed on www.tradeindia.com has the name of Prakash Shambharkar.