In response to a pressing need for office space at the Mantralaya and its annex, the Maharashtra government is preparing to transfer some of its administrative functions to the illustrious 23-story Air India building situated at Nariman Point. This iconic sea-facing structure is a mere 600 meters away from the state secretariat.
During a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Wednesday, the State Cabinet approved the acquisition of the Air India building for a total of Rs 1,601 crore.
Designed by the renowned architect John Burgee, this building was erected in 1974 on reclaimed land that the state government had leased to Air India. It is widely recognized as one of Mumbai’s prominent landmarks.
In 2018, Air India, five years after relocating its headquarters to New Delhi, made the decision to sell the building as part of its asset monetization strategy and solicited bids from potential buyers. While Air India initially sought Rs 2,000 crore for the property, the Maharashtra government initially offered Rs 1,400 crore. The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority proposed Rs 1,375 crore, and the Life Insurance Corporation put forth an offer of Rs 1,200 crore. However, this process encountered delays due to a change in government in 2019. Subsequently, under the leadership of Eknath Shinde, negotiations were revived with Air India, and the state government decided to increase its offer to Rs 1,601 crore.
On Wednesday, the Maharashtra Cabinet granted approval for this revised proposal and additionally consented to waive approximately Rs 250 crore in unrealized income and interest owed by Air India to the state government for the leased land.
Following the Mantralaya fire incident in 2012, numerous government offices and departments found themselves scattered throughout the city, some of them distant from the state secretariat. Officials have disclosed that the state government pays an annual rent of around Rs 200 crore for these dispersed offices. With the acquisition of the Air India building, a substantial space measuring around 46,470 square meters will become accessible.
The government is actively pursuing the possession of the Air India building at Nariman Point. During the Cabinet meeting, a senior government official confirmed the decision to waive all outstanding income and other penalties owed by Air India.
At present, the building is under the ownership of Air India Assets Holding Limited, a company established by the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation in 2018 to oversee all properties owned by Air India. In the previous year, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis engaged with Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, advocating for the state government’s priority consideration in the building’s disposal.
Of the building’s nine floors, a number currently remain vacant. Three floors are utilized for GST offices, while the Income-Tax department occupies eight floors. The ground and first floors are presently under the control of Air India. The government has communicated its request to Air India Assets Holding Company for a transfer of the building free of encumbrances. Notably, the Air India building was a target during the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, which resulted in a car bomb explosion in the vicinity, claiming the lives of 20 individuals.