Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bharatpur Beach - Neil Island Land Deal: Pawarful Connections

LOA Vol 36 - Issue - 02 - 15 Oct 2012

Bharatpur Beach - Neil Island Land Deal:
Pawarful Connections

By Zubair Ahmed 

With new revelations on the whopping Irrigation scam unraveling in Maharashtra, the connections and links of Soma Enterprises with the NCP-Congress combine has a thread ending up in Andaman and Nicobar Islands too.

Soma Enterprises, which surprisingly won the bid for the Bharatpur Beach property in Neil Island too has many interesting linkages which points finger towards the long tenure of the incumbent Lieutenant Governor, Bhopinder Singh.

In Maharashtra according to news reports, all the tenders were in excess of 10 per cent above the estimated costs. Government rules clearly stipulate that any tender quoting 5 per cent above the estimated costs needs the approval of Secretary of Finance, Planning and Water Resources. To circumvent that, the minister revised the original estimates post the bids. The clearances were given simply on the signatures of Ajit Pawar and Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation Executive Director DP Shirkhe.

This is the same modus operandi used by the Lieutenant Governor in the Neil Island case too – of changing the original estimates post the bids. Despite many objections raised by Vivek Rae, then Chief Secretary, he forced the Administration to offer the land on a platter to Soma Enterprises for a meager Rs. 25 Lakhs per annum, by retrospectively reducing the minimum acceptable benchmark price to qualify Soma Enterprises low bid. This is the same Soma Enterprises where the same Avinash Bhosale was the promoter, a builder from Pune known to be close to the Pawar family. It was difficult to substantiate the motive of the whole deal. However, it was alleged that in exchange, the Lieutenant Governor had got an extension of tenure, unprecedented in the history of the Islands. Certainly the fact that the bid process coincided with the end of his initial tenure may have raised such doubts in peole’s minds.

The Light of Andamans had broken the story (Beach Properties: Andaman for Sale, Issue 14, 30 September 2011. To read the complete story, click here:

In the case of Neil Island, right connections with an obliging Administrator had worked in favour of Soma Enterprise to grab the deal dodging all laws in the rulebook.

It is also interesting to note that Soma Enterprise was a novice with no experience at all in the hospitality and tourism sector. No representative of Soma Enterprises’ bid partner, whose experience was shown to meet technical qualification criteria, had ever been seen during or after the bid process.
Why the Administrator, sidelining his own Administration went ahead and aggressively advocated to accept the bid of Soma Enterprises is not a puzzle anymore.

1 comment:

Kalapani said...

wonderful investigative journalism congrats carry on till the logical end