Mumbai: If all goes according to plan, the country’s premier container terminal, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) may buy out Mumbai’s landmark, the Air India Building, the erstwhile headquarters of the country’s flag-carrier, official sources indicated here on Wednesday.
The Central government has already set in motion the process for the proposed sale – as part of an innovative measure to raise funds for the beleaguered airline after recent efforts for a strategic disinvestment proposal crash-landed.
Well-placed sources from the JNPT confirmed that a high-level committee from the Civil Aviation Ministry and Shipping Ministry has been constituted to work out the nitty-gritties including the valuation of building sitting on one of the most prime pieces of real estate in the world, Nariman Point.
“So far, we have not received any official communication in this regard, but we are hopeful it will come in due course,” an official, who declined to be identified, told IANS.
The developments follow a green signal from the PMO and an inter-ministerial panel formed to hammer out the modalities of the proposed sale, as well other aspects like the name of building, its existing tenants which are source of huge revenue for the national carrier.
Some prominent realtors in south Mumbai declined to speculate a probable value for the majestic white-hued 23-storeyed tower standing at the entrance of Nariman Point on the Arabian Sea at the southern end of Marine Drive, with the AI’s massive revolving logo on its terrace visible from long distances in south Mumbai.
However, they explain that given its “ultra-prime location in the heart of the CBD”, it could fetch a very handsome figure for the AI, which is buried under accumulated debts of around Rs 50,000 crore.
After the deal finalizes smoothly, besides the JNPT, only PSU Shipping Corporation of India would be having its own skyscraper at Nariman Point, the area which has the offices of several major Indian and international shipping companies and allied services, plus a couple of five-star hotels and an arts complex, prominent media houses, and the Mantralaya – the Maharashtra government headquarters.
The Air India Building, among the most sought-after commercial addresses in the city, was one of the 13 prominent targets during the March 12, 1993 serial bombings in Mumbai, considered the biggest single act of terror which left 257 dead and 713 injured in a matter of two hours.