The Maharashtra government has begun discussions with Air India to purchase its iconic building located in the Nariman Point area of the city overseeing Marine Drive. Maharashtra chief secretary Sitaram Kunte discussed the valuation of the building with Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal. “Discussions are going on,” Kunte told Media .
Debt-ridden Air India had floated tenders for the sale of the 23-storey building, which stands on state government land, in 2018, but it failed to evoke a good response.Air India officials told Kunte that their internal valuation of the building was more than Rs 2,000 crore to which Kunte asked them to share it with the state government, official sources said.
“The Air India building has become old. A private party will have to demolish the entire structure. We can use it for another eight to ten years to accommodate some government offices. The building cost cannot be over Rs 2,000 crore. Its actual cost would only be the strategic location and the land cost,” an official who attended the meeting said.
Back in 2018, Air India had approached the then state government and sought its participation in the tender. “We did not participate in the tender process but the government wrote to Air India quoting a price of Rs 1,450 crore for the purchase. The actual price would have been around Rs 1,100 crore to Rs 1,200 crore since the government’s dues from Air India are around Rs 300 crore,” the official said. An Air India spokesperson declined to comment. The Air India building is a landmark on Mumbai’s skyline with the airline’s trademark Centaur icon on its top.
The building served as the corporate headquarters of Air India till 2013. In February 2013, Air India officially vacated the building as part of its asset-monetisation plan and shifted its corporate office to New Delhi.
The Air India building was one of the several high rises, including Express Towers and the Oberoi Sheraton that came up at Nariman Point, a 64-acre reclamation from the sea which was initiated as a project to ease the housing crisis in Mumbai but was later auctioned off in plots to various companies.