Published On : Fri, Oct 20th, 2017

Govt’s ‘grand gesture’ to Patanjali boomerangs as new cos put investments in Mihan project on backburner?

Patanjali Land
Nagpur: The ‘grand gesture’ of Maharashtra Government to allot over 200 acres of land at Mihan to Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali at throwaway price seems to have boomeranged in more ways than one. The State Government allotted the land to Patanjali at Rs 25 lakh per acre as against the market rate of Rs 60 lakh an acre. Now, to recover the “loss,” the government has hiked the cost of remaining land at Mihan for the newcomers. Rs 70 lakh per acre is now the cost of land being offered by the State Government. As a result, those companies planning to invest in the Mihan project are now putting their investments on the backburner. This deprivation of investment has pushed the ambitious Mihan project way behind.

Demonetisation is also being cited in some quarters as the reason behind the newer companies putting their investments in Mihan project on hold. But that is not the truth. If the investments by big companies in the past three years were to be taken note of then the ‘rot’ could be seen clearly. Whereas 20 companies invested in the Mihan project in the first two years, the next one year saw only five companies, that too smaller ones, made their presence in the project. It simply means that the agency – MADC — operating Mihan project has failed abysmally to attract new investments. On the other hand, the hiked rate of land in SEZ is also deterring the new companies to invest in the project. The one acre land that was previously offered at the rate of Rs 60 lakh is now being priced at Rs 70 lakh. The reason behind this hike is mainly due to allotment of huge land at subsidised rate to Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali. The State Government is now ‘recovering’ the loss from newer companies who plan to invest in Mihan project.

Notably, the State Government allotted the land to Patanjali at Rs 25 lakh per acre as against the market rate of Rs 60 lakh an acre. The logic put behind this ‘grand gesture’ was that the land allotted is undeveloped. After this very decision, the State Government, in order to reduce the burden of reverse cross subsidy, hiked the rate by Rs 10 lakh per acre.

Patanjali has not yet commenced its production even though the bhoomipujan was performed on September 10, 2016 with much fanfare. According to agreement, commencement of production within 18 months is mandatory.

It is pertinent to recall that a fortnight after they helped make public the generous land allotment deal to Baba Ramdev’s multi-crore venture Patanjali, courtesy an RTI document, two information officers have been transferred.

Marketing Manager of MADC’s (Maharashtra Airport Development Company), to which the land belonged, Atul Thakare who was also the PIO (Public Information Officer) of its Nagpur branch was moved to Mumbai. And Marketing Manager Sameer Gokhale who was a PIO in Mumbai was transferred to Nagpur.

In March, local newspapers had reported on the shoving of IAS Officer Bijay Kumar from the Finance Department shortly after he questioned the basis of a 75% discount for land awarded to Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd. The report detailing how the price was lowered, was based on RTI documents. The land belongs to the Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC).

While Thakare had served in his post for four years, Gokhale was transferred just four months after his appointment as marketing manager, sources said.