Nariman Point to lose iconic Air India building?
Imagine Nariman Point without the iconic Air India building. No Maharaja welcoming you into the 23-storey corporate headquarters of the national carrier. No more stopping and staring at the handsome landmark on a stroll down the scenic Marine Drive.
If some politicians and aviation industry insiders are to be believed, the building in the country’s first central business district is to be sold to real estate developers.
Located next to the Trident hotel, the Air India building has an area of approximately 2 lakh sq ft. It is a leasehold property; it has been leased by the Collector to Air India.
According to sources in the aviation industry, there has been talk for some time now that the offices of Air India should be moved to Delhi from the city. The sources say that the proposal has come from none other than Aviation Minister Ajit Singh.
Last year, MiD DAY had reported that most of the Air India building was lying vacant and not many were using it (‘Air India’s Rs 80-crore-a-year ghost town’, June 4, 2011).
Now, Vinod Tawde, the leader of the Opposition in the state legislative council, has claimed that the Congress-led government at the Centre wants to make vast profits from an arrangement to sell the building to developers.
Tawde yesterday alleged that the Centre was planning to deal a blow to the city by shifting all centres of power to Delhi.
He said that the Centre wanted to achieve its plan by moving important offices from the financial capital of the country to the national capital and that Air India was the first entity on its radar.
Tawde claimed that most of the building was occupied and it should not be sold off.
“The Centre is adamant in trying to make Mumbai less powerful,” he said. “The Centre’s first aim is to move the Air India base from here, after which it will slowly target other central government offices and move these also. We, as the Opposition, will not let this happen. This isn’t something that should be allowed. We won’t let the Congress make only Delhi powerful and downgrade Mumbai.”
Tawde also claimed that the Congress wanted to sell off the building to take advantage of the profits to be made from the realty industry in the city.
“The real estate market in Mumbai is very lucrative and by selling the building the Congress will make profits. That is why all this is being done,” he said, adding, “We will see to it that such things don’t happen.”