Nagpur: It was to be the grandest Housing and Commercial scheme Nagpur had ever seen.
Somewhat ungrammatically described as – “the where, with all” – a brave slogan that you still see as you make your way to the site in search of the ‘grand city’.
It implied that Ensaara park near Besa in South Nagpur – again euphemistically called ‘SoNa’ – was going to have it all. The ‘metro city’ of your dreams.
This is the word picture that was painted for us –
The director of Luxora Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. Chaitanya Parekh had in October 2013 told us that “Metro Park” is going to be first of its kind project in India. It is a blend of state-of-the-art infrastructure, technology and nature”s beauty. “The project has bagged gold certification from Indian Green Building Council. It would have parks and water bodies on 150 acre of land,” he said adding, “30 acres of land would be dedicated to central park, Bio-diversity Park, pocket parks, garden and sports ground.”
The project spread over 280 acres of land would be developed in three phases.
The company would invest ` 740 crore to develop 1,100 residential units which would be constructed along with school, hospital, temple, sports complex, shopping mall, restaurant, club house and other amenities on 141 acres land, in the first phase. Apart from it 5,000 saplings would be planted on the project site.
As they had promised Nagpurians, people who booked in the first phase were to start getting allotments in 2-3 years so by that reckoning, some buildings should have been ready by now and people living there already.
Since the location of this ‘Golden’ (Sona) city is in reality in a far off corner, beyond the outskirts of the city in the village Mouza Pipla, near Hudkeshwar, not many are aware of the fate or status of the proposed ‘Metro city’ – though the full page ads that flooded all city newspapers prior to its launch had made us all aware of the name ‘Ensaara’.
Then we in NT received an e mail of a customer informing us that project had been halted, his money ( invested so far) not being returned and no one communicating anything to him. You guessed right – he is an NRI living in Germany.
So we decided to investigate.
We made our way through the Ring road to Manewada, to Besa square and through badly pot holed roads that wove their way through green fields to the village Mouza. One thing must be admitted here – whatever happens to the “with all” Metro park , a lot of things have happened to Mouza!
Speaking colloquially – “Gaon chamak gaya hai!” Recently renovated and painted homes, cemented bylanes and two wheelers, even four wheelers visible everywhere. The road turns right and you spy far away an arch, and entrance sort of to Ensaara.
There is no human in sight; the motorable entrance way is cordoned off with a rope and there are two plastic chairs sitting empty. The ‘guards’ we assume occupy it are nowhere in sight. We move the rope ourselves and drive in. Vestiges of half built buildings, some signs for ‘school’ , ‘temple’ greet us but it is mostly greenfield land.
Then we come to what really seems a wonderful mirage! A sophisticated, large glass and aluminium building, with beautifully manicured gardens in front and a palm fringed driveway running towards it. There is a man made lake of sorts in front and the entrance to this grand building is flanked by artificial lawns on which is a brand new play park for kids.
But there are no kids, or for that matter no adults in sight anywhere. The office is closed – it has really begun feeling spooky now, like a nightmare from which you will get up any minute. Then a guard drives in – at last some sign of life!
“Aaj office band hai” he tells us. To our question if it ever opens, he gives a cryptic smile.
“Not since most of the employees haven’t received their salaries for some months” he tells us reluctantly.
Now another car drives up and two gentlemen walk out. They have also come to enquire about a commercial property they have booked and which should have been ready by now. Clearly uncomfortable that they are in the presence of the media they refrain from disclosing much. But yes, they seem worried though they cover it up with a brave – ” We are sure the problems will be sorted out soon and construction resumed again.”
This is exactly the same line that is echoed by the owners ‘representative’ when we attempt to speak to one of the Directors – two live in Mumbai and two abroad, we are told.
Curiously, the ‘rep’ authorized to speak on their behalf “officially” also does not want his name, designation of Company disclosed.
“Write you learnt from ‘sources’ ” he prompts me on the phone.
He utters and then re iterates in different words just one statement again and again :
“This project has neither been abandoned nor has it ‘failed’. Yes, there are some issues, some financial ones too – so yes, some employees haven’t been paid up fully. No, they are being paid in installments and there is deferred payment, you cannot say they have not been paid please! Construction will resume, just wait and watch…”
We are not going to just wait and watch. We are going to follow up the story and piece together as many missing pieces as we can.
How many people have booked properties? How much have they paid already? What is the version of the employees who have already quit their jobs with Ensaara; What do local bodies and authorities have to say about the legal status? And how many suppliers/ vendors have not been paid?
Please get in touch with us at e mails given below if you are an affected party.
—Sunita Mudaliar (Associate Editor)