Air India: Ajit Singh meets striking pilots to end impasse

Singh indicated that the process to revoke sack orders of 101 pilots would begin as and when they resume duty

New Delhi: In a bid to end the stalemate, Indian Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh on Friday met striking pilots from Air India for the first time and told them that there would be no victimisation if they resumed duty immediately and that their grievances would be considered, reports PTI.

For the first time in 18 days since the strike began, five pilots of the Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG), spearheading the stir, called on Singh at the Ministry's headquarters here and held a 90-minute-long meeting with him. Air India CMD Rohit Nandan was asked to join the meeting at the fag end.

"We reiterated the stand of the government that it is an illegal strike. It has caused untold miseries to passengers. Air India has lost much and therefore they should come back to work immediately," Singh told reporters after the meeting.

Asked whether the pilots were willing to return to work, he said, "That you have to ask them."

Singh said that he had stated in Parliament that "we won't be vindictive. We understand their problems also. Lot of young people are there ..... They are also worried, we also realise that we want them back. But it is for them to decide."

He said that the pilots began their agitation without serving a notice and "reported sick when they were not".

The Minister is understood to have told the pilots that the ailing airline had suffered a great deal not only in terms of financial losses but also on its image and the people's confidence in it.

Sources said Singh indicated that the process to revoke sack orders of pilots would begin as and when they resume duty. A total of 101 pilots owing allegiance to IPG have so far been sacked by the airline management.

After the meeting, IPG sources said they would be meeting Friday evening to take stock of the discussions five of their members had with the Minister and decide on the future course of action.

In a letter to Singh, IPG General Secretary Erjahn Kapadia had sought an appointment with the Minister, saying they wanted to present their case before him.

However, the Minister said, "Some pilots wanted to meet me. So I met them," making it clear that the IPG was now a derecognised body.

He said Air India was already implementing a contingency business plan in accordance with the situation that it is facing now in the wake of the agitation by the pilots.

The strike has so far caused an estimated loss of over Rs250 crore to Air India, which has been operating curtailed international operations. The national carrier has announced the contingency plan would remain effective till 30 June.

Under the interim schedule, Air India will operate 38 international flights per day instead of 45 that it operates under normal conditions.

While most flights affected are those to Europe and North America where a curtailed operation is on, the destinations not covered under this schedule are Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul and Toronto.

All flights to the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Singapore, Thailand and SAARC countries are being operated as per normal schedule.

Domestic operations of Air India are also carrying on normally and there has been no disruption on this front due to the present agitation, officials said.




4 years ago

For once the stand of the Govt on AI strike will yield results. The IPG has rightly been derecognized. All its Office bearers who have instigated the strike and have been sacked ,should not be taken back. The High Court order on contempt gives AI a good legal backing against striking office bearers and it should not buckle under pressure to take them back. Other members of the IPG may be taken back if they were passive followers and not active strikers. Post strike AI must work with unions on implementing Dharmadhikari report on HR and take all towards integration , though merger itself was foolhardy on Praful Patel's part.

Green Tribunal rejects plea against Jaitapur Nuclear project

The Tribunal dismissed the plea of Janahit Seva Samiti saying the petition was filed after a delay of 294 days

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has refused to entertain a petition challenging the environment clearance (EC) granted to 9,900MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Park in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district in West India on the ground that the plea was time barred, reports PTI.

The Tribunal dismissed the plea of Janahit Seva Samiti, an NGO, challenging the 26 November 2010 EC granted by Indian Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to the project, saying the petition was filed after a delay of 294 days on 17 September 2011 and hence was "grossly barred by time".

As per the NGT Act, a plea can be filed within 30 days of passing of an order sought to be challenged and the Tribunal, to its satisfaction, can condone a further delay of 60 days.

"As stated earlier, this Tribunal being a statutory authority is bound by the provisions of the statute and cannot traverse beyond provisions of the NGT Act. Under Section-16 (relating to appellate jurisdiction of NGT) there is clear bar not to entertain appeal filed beyond 60 days," a bench headed by Tribunal's Acting Chairperson Justice AS Naidu said.

"Though this Tribunal is liberal in condoning the delay, as and when it finds sufficient reasons and is not super-technical, but then being a statutory tribunal it cannot ignore the period stipulated in the statute.

"In view of the discussions made above, we are not inclined to condone the delay and dismiss this petition.

Consequently, the appeal also stands dismissed," it added.

The plea was filed by Maharashtra-based NGO Janahit Seva Samiti contending that "project is likely to cause hazard to the environment as well as ecology". 

The NGO had pleaded that the NGT Act came into force from 18 October 2010, but the Tribunal started functioning only from June 2011, and it (NGO) took all "effective and diligent steps to file the appeal as early as possible".

The plea was "strongly opposed" by MoEF, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, contending that delay could not be condoned as they have "substantially gone ahead with the project", incurred huge expenses and "any hindrance at this stage would cause great prejudice".

The bench noted that as the Tribunal started functioning only from June 2011, the Supreme Court had in a judgement extended the period for filing an appeal by 60 days commencing from 30 May 2011 and "thus the last date for filing an appeal was extended till 30 July 2011".

"The appellant (NGO) failed to avail the opportunity granted by the Supreme Court and did not file the appeal within extended period too.

"The appeal was filed only in the month of September 2011. Thus, the same is grossly barred by time," the bench said.


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