Friday, July 15, 2022

Mumbai International Airport Ltd stakes claim over Air India sports club; airline, airport staff argue over ground use

Mumbai: In letter sent to Air India on Wednesday, Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) said that it had taken over the possession of the Air India Sports Club in Kalina. The ground is located in the vicinity of Air India staff colonies. Later in the evening, the airline and the airport staff had an argument over the rights to use the ground.

“Please note that the land of the sports complex has been demised by Airports Authority of India (AAI) to MIAL and we have taken over possession of the same,” said the letter. “No activity whatsoever is permitted to be undertaken on this land. Any force for attempt to use the land will lead to legal consequences as per rights of MIAL.”

George Abraham, general secretary, Aviation Industry Employees Guild, an Air India union, said around 4.30 pm, eight to 10 people from MIAL, including a security manager in a red-and-white striped shirt, reached Air India Sports Club and informed the staff that from Thursday, no one can enter the ground as they have taken possession. “Thereafter, the staff and managers came on the scene and questioned them and told them that the matter is in court. After stiff opposition from employees they left,” Abraham said.

Air India confirmed receiving the MIAL letter. “However, there was no confrontation at any stage regarding this and the issue is being sorted out,” said an AI spokesperson. MIAL did not respond to a query sent by the TOI.

On Thursday morning, the ground stayed open to the public. Said a source: “Yashasvi Jaiswal, who opens for Mumbai in domestic cricket and Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, honed his cricketing skills on this ground.” Current Mumbai captain Prithvi Shaw also trained at this ground during his teenage years. “Several current and former India players, including former India skipper Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina have trained on this ground. It is one of the best cricket grounds in Mumbai suburbs. MCA tournaments, including the Times Shield and Kanga league, take place on this ground,” the source added.

The Kalina land on which this sports complex stands belongs to the state government, which leased it to the Centre-owned AAI, which further handed over the lease to MIAL—currently under the Adani Group—when the airport was privatized.

15/07/22 Gaurav Gupta/Times of India

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