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No beating about the bush.
While Bank of Baroda (BoB) has declared the chairman and managing director of Dighi Port Ltd, Vijay Kalantri, his son and one of the company directors, Vishal, as defaulters, a Moneylife search of digital land records has discovered large tracts of land in the name of Mr Kalantri and his family members. A simple search on the Mahabhumi website from the Maharashtra state revenue department reveals that Mr Kalantri and his sons, Vishal, Vikas and Vinay own several acres of land at Dighi village in the Shrivardhan taluka of Raigad district.
For example, Vishal Kalantri owns 4 acres 32 ares (40 are=1 acre) in gat no259 and 4 acres and 25 ares in gat no85, while his brothers Vinay and Vikas own 1 acre land in gat no148 and 5 ares in gat no155, respectively, at Dighi village. Vijay Kalantri too owns 1 acre 27 ares, which is given on lease to the company, as per the records from the state government. Overall there are four properties listed against the names of the Kalantris, three in the name of Vishal, and one each for Vinay and Vikas in Dighi village records.
According to him, he is preparing a response to the Times of India report, which he says is incorrect. Our specific email and SMS sent to Mr Kalantri, however, remained unanswered till writing this story. We will update this story as and when we receive a reply from him.
As per the notice issued by Bank of Baroda, together the Kalantris owe about Rs3,334 crore to a consortium of 16 banks led by Vijaya Bank, now merged with BoB.
Interestingly, while Mr Kalantri has been declared a wilful defaulter only now, he has been on the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)'s bank defaulters' list for a long time.
Ironically, in the past year Mr Kalantri has paid over Rs50 lakh to the custodian appointed under the statute to try scam related offences pertaining to the securities scam of 1992. We learn that the payment is related to a special court order and has been made under protest.
Mr Kalantri, with his connections across political parties, is president of All India Association of Industries (AIAI) and vice-chairman of World Trade Centre at Mumbai.
Dighi Port, located in Raigad district, won the 50-year concession from the Maharashtra government to develop and operate a private port. It is the first port to face bankruptcy proceedings but has seen keen bidding interest from 14 bidders. In February this year, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) had beaten 14 other bidders to get the Dighi Port.
IL&FS Maritime Infrastructure Co Ltd, holds a 39.38% stake in Dighi Port. Typical of IL&FS, the work was sub contracted to other group entities. So in October 2014, IL&FS Engineering and Construction Co was given a Rs179.84 crore contract to develop a multipurpose berth at the Dighi Port.
IL&FS Maritime Infrastructure, which is 90% owned by IL&FS, is listed as a financial creditor of Dighi Port with a claim of over Rs206 crore. And despite its own financial crisis, the IL&FS group company was one of the bidders in 2018 for Dighi Port!
Dighi Port was dragged to the bankruptcy resolution process by DBM Geotechnics and Constructions Pvt Ltd, an operational creditor to whom is owed Rs30 crore.