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Patel not in favour of declaring Air India sick

New Delhi: Praful Patel, who took over as Cabinet Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, today said Air India, under his previous charge, should not be declared sick as restoring financial health to national carrier is "completely doable".

"Thankful to the Prime Minister for the new responsibilities" given to him, Patel, 53, said Air India required for a long time fresh equity and the decision on the same came "a little too late".

The government was committed for financial restructuring of the carrier, he said.

Consultancy firm Deloite and SBI Caps are working on Air India`s revamp plan. "I have seen the document prepared by Deloite and SBI Caps and the long term plans for AI. It is completely doable and certainly there is no issue of AI not doing well in the future," Patel said.

He was "sure" that the new Civil Aviation Minister (Vayalar Ravi) would be able to look at the complex issue of revival of AI.

" I do not see any reason why it can`t be put to good health", he remarked.

It was only about a month ago that Patel had met then Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh advising against the move to declare AI sick.

The state-owned company has accumulated losses over Rs 5,000 crore.

With the change in his portfolio,Patel himself has take a call on whether or not to declare AI sick. He said, putting AI into a sick category would be "very categorical" and not advisable".

"Now after coming in this ministry, I will give all the help and positive approach to o it (AI)", he said.

Reacting to an allegation that the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines was ill-advised,the NCP leader said it was a collective decision of the government.

"Whatever was done was done with a very very elaborate process of government decision-making. Nothing was done in haste or individually," he said.

Happy with his promotion from the Minister of State( Independent charge) to a Cabinet rank, Patel said he has bee wanting a change for a long time.

"It is time to move on, am happy to move on".

As for priorities in the new portfolio, he said with the help of his economic background, a new direction would sought to be given to the functioning of the public sector enterprises.

If necessary, the government would examine with an open mind the issue of the PSUs entering into joint ventures " as long as it makes economic sense".

His predecessor Deshmukh wished Patel all the success and greeted him on the occasion.

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