National carrier Air India has been asked by the Centre to ensure that its employees vacate the company-provided accommodations within six months from the divestment of the airline or the monetisation of properties.
Accordingly, employees staying in company accommodations in different housing establishments will have to vacate or face strict penal action or heavy monetary penalty with disciplinary action.
The decision, according to the employees, comes as a rude shock, especially in metro cities like Delhi or Mumbai, where housing rentals are "sky-high".
At present, Air India has colonies in both Delhi and Mumbai. Flats in these colonies were allotted to the employees on subsidised rates.
The development assumes significance as the divestment process has picked-up pace and is said to be in its final stages.
In a letter to the Air India CMD, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said on September 29: "AI employees may continue to stay at the residential colonies of the company post disinvestment for a period of six months or till the property is monetised, whichever is earlier.
"Appropriate binding legal and other arrangements, including financial disincentives, should be formulated to enable prompt vacation of the properties by the employees."
The decision as per the letter was taken by the AISAM (Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism) at its meeting held on August 9, 2021.
Besides, the letter detailed that employees retiring as of September 30, 2021, may be allowed to retain the accommodation for a maximum period of four months or within six months post disinvestment or "till the property is monetised whichever is earlier".
"No extension in retention beyond four months shall be provided under any circumstances," it said.
The serving employees residing in AI colonies shall vacate the allotted accommodation within a period of six months post disinvestment or till the property is monetised.
"These new rules have not mandated the airline to provide alternative residential arrangements. There is anxiety among employees that many might become homeless with families in metros like Delhi and Mumbai, especially during the ongoing pandemic," a senior airline staffer said.
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