Indian government suspends six AAI officials

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India's civil aviation minister Ajit Singh has suspended and ordered penalty proceedings against six senior officers from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for favouring a company in the awarding of ground handling contracts at some Indian airports.

An inquiry by the country's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), following complaints, found irregularities favouring ground handler, Bhadra International India, for the award of contracts by AAI at Chennai and Kolkata airports. It found that AAI had made certain deviations in the notice inviting tender to make Bhadra eligible in the bid process.

The suspended officers include AAI's executive director of commercial LL Krishnan, deputy general manager (DGM) of finance RL Saran, additional general manager of commercial S Basu, DGM of operations Arun Mehan, DGM of operations PK Chadha and general manager Ravi Verma.

Singh has also ordered the filing of first information reports, which kickstarts police investigations, against the managing director of the company in question, Bhadra, and two retired AAI officials. The three parties are being investigated for manipulation, forgery, criminal breach of trust, criminal conspiracy and corruption under the Indian Penal code and prevention of corruption act.

It was also discovered that Bhadra's financial bid was tampered to modify the rate of royalties payable to AAI.

"The CBI also found grave and serious irregularities in the award of contract of ground handling services for Trivandrum, Coimbatore, Calicut, Mangalore and Tiruchi," India's ministry of civil aviation said in a statement.

The inquiry also revealed that a sister company of Bhadra owes AAI Rs360 million ($6.67 million) for an advertisement contract.