YEIDA report shows how officials flouted rules in the Rs 126-crore land scam

GREATER NOIDA: There is little headway in the police probe into the Rs 126 crore Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) scam, in which former authority CEO P C Gupta and other former and current officials are involved.

Meanwhile, a report by Meena Bhargava, the current GM (planning), who probed into the purchase of 57 hectares of land, reveals how YEIDA officials, under the then CEO, had bypassed rules to purchase land in seven Mathura villages. The report was handed over to YEIDA chairman and Meerut division commissioner Prabhat Kumar on December 8, 2012.

Of the 57 hectare purchased by YEIDA in 2013 from seven villages – Madaur, Seo Patti Banger, Seo Patti Khadar, Kolana Banger, Kolana Khadar, Sotipura Bangar and Nauhjheel Banger – the purchase of only eight hectares “seems relevant” – to build ramps for the Bajna-Nauhjhil road.

The report says the land purchase was done for three reasons — to build exit/entry ramps on the Yamuna Expressway and Bajna-Naujhil road — and for allotment of 7% developed land to the farmers, in lieu of land acquired from them for the construction of Yamuna Expressway.

The report notes Gupta had formed a committee for demarcation of the 7% of abadi land. “The committee, formed by the then CEO on October 1, 2013, recommended demarcation of plots in three villages — Seo Patti Banger, Seo Patti Khadar and Kolana Khadar. But, apart from that, purchase of different plots of land was also sanctioned in all seven villages”, the report states.

The probe revealed officials publicised only one of the land purchase deals (Seo Patti Banger) in two local newspapers – Insaf Kalyan and Deshratan – which don’t even fall in the category of regional newspapers. Further, although government files mention all plot-related documents, including ownership documents (khatauni, khasra and benama) of all plots purchased, the annexures include documents of only a few of these plots. “Due process has not been followed in the purchase of land,” reads the report, accessed by TOI.

It has also come to fore that the minutes of YEIDA’s 46th board meeting mention a provision in the concession agreement which says the Jaypee concessionaire will have to bear the total cost of acquisition. “Hence, there will be no additional burden on YEIDA, in case 7% abadi land is given to farmers whose land has been acquired, as the cost will be borne by the concessionaire. However, there is no mention of recovery of costs from the concessionaire,” reads the report.

The land has still not been used up by YEIDA. Since the land was purchased by the Authority from 19 individuals/companies at higher rates, it indicates these people have benefited from the purchase.

Blackstone-Embassy Group to file for REIT IPO in July

About two years after Blackstone Group LP registered India’s first real estate investment trust, the private equity giant is close to taking it public. Rising interest rates threaten to get in the way.

Blackstone and local partner Embassy Group plan to file a prospectus for an initial public offering of the REIT as early as next month, a deal that may raise as much as $1 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said. Even so, the listing could be delayed should investors demand a higher-than-expected yield, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

A successful listing of Blackstone’s REIT would send a hopeful message to India’s cash-starved property companies, who are still recovering from sweeping policy changes over the past two years and struggling for new loans. However, rising returns from safe instruments such as government bonds are pushing investors to seek higher payouts from riskier ones like REITS.

Investors may demand yields as high as 15 percent to subscribe to the Blackstone offering, said Devendra Singhvi, Mumbai-based head of fixed income at Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance Co. That’s almost double what 10-year Indian government bonds yield.

Blackstone’s REIT is focused on commercial real estate and is said to include properties that count Rolls Royce Holdings Plc and Microsoft Corp. as tenants. This could render it less vulnerable to rising rates given that India’s seeing a revival in the commercial segment of the property market.

Demand for office space grew 23 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018 after a 5.7 percent gain the same period last year, data from Colliers International show. Appreciation of a REIT’s underlying assets, together with the yield, would boost total returns for investors.

Holding a REIT unit for 10 years may generate returns as high as 15 percent annually, said S. Sriniwasan, managing director of Kotak Investment Advisors. “There will be good demand from evolved and patient investors who understand the yield-plus growth fundamental driving the total return that this product offers.”

A Blackstone representative declined to comment. The Business Standard newspaper had previously reported about a possible listing.

Long Gestation

REITs have been in the making for about half a decade in India, as the regulator kept tweaking rules. Investors have to pay 30 percent short-term capital gains tax on REITs in India compared with zero in Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia. The minimum initial investment of 200,000 rupees ($3,000) is also a deterrent for retail investors.

Moreover, investors are wary of these products after much-hyped infrastructure investment trusts failed to meet market expectations. IRB InvIT Fund has plummeted about 22 percent and India Grid Trust declined 3 percent since their listings last year.

“If InvITs have not done well, there will definitely be an impact on REITs,” said Sandeep Upadhyay, chief executive officer of Centrum Infrastructure Advisory Ltd. He predicts REIT investors will seek a premium of at least 3 percentage points over the 7.86 percent sovereign 10-year bond yield.

Surabhi Arora, senior analyst at property services firm Colliers, says Indian REITs will be unable to pay much above 9 percent, given that the overall property market is still recovering.

It was hit in 2016 by the Indian government’s shock decision to clamp down on cash transactions. Home sales plunged to a seven-year low, leaving developers grappling with debt and banks clamped down further on lending. Bank loans to commercial real estate rose less than 0.5 percent in the two years through April 2018 while overall non-food credit increased almost 16 percent.

Emaar India appoints Prashant Gupta as CEO

NEW DELHI: Emaar India, part of Dubai-based realty major Emaar Properties, has appointed Prashant Gupta as CEO to strengthen its business and is also streamlining processes to make the organisation more efficient.

This is the second major appointment by Emaar India in the last 3 months.

In April, Emaar Properties appointed Hadi Badri as managing director of India business to drive growth following the demerger of its joint venture with a local partner.

According to sources, Prashant, who was working with Aditya Birla group since 2011, has been appointed as CEO of Emaar India.

He held various positions in Aditya Birla group, including that of President and CEO of online retail business ABOF.com.

When contacted, Emaar India confirmed the appointment of Prashant.

“Emaar India is working to strengthen its business operations to achieve its full potential in India and aspires to build a business that is really admired by all stakeholders in the real estate sector“.

“The company has been streamlining processes and adapting its organisation to become more productive and efficient. The company has recently appointed Prashant Gupta as CEO,” Emaar India said.

In 2005, Emaar Properties entered Indian real estate market in partnership with India’s MGF group and invested Rs 8,500 crore through joint venture Emaar MGF Land.

However, in April 2016, it decided to end this JV and two months later Shravan Gupta, the then executive vice chairman & managing director of the JV, resigned from the post.

In January this year, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) approved the proposed demerger scheme of Emaar MGF Land, paving the way for two JV partners – Emaar Properties and MGF Development – to go separate ways.

Emaar India has completed about 5,000 units over the last 18 months and  of the remaining about 10,000 units within next one and half years.

It has raised debt to speed up construction of its various housing projects in Gurgaon, Jaipur, Lucknow, Mohali and Chennai. It also has a land bank of about 5,000 acres for future development.

Bank of Maharashtra’s CEO and ED Arrested in DSK Group Case

The Economic offences wing of the Pune police has arrested the MD & CEO of Bank of Maharashtra Ravindra Marathe along with executive director RK Gupta in the Rs 3,000 crore DSK Group loan default case. Sushil Muhnot, the former CMD of the bank, was also nabbed from Jaipur in connection with the loan default.

According to allegations made by the Pune EoW, the arrested officials colluded with the DSK Group by entering into fraudulent transactions and sanctioned loans with was later siphoned off. All persons arrested have been booked for cheating, forgery criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust among others.

Pune-based builder DS Kulkarni and his wife Hemanti who were arrested in February this year are accused of cheating over 4,000 investors of Rs 1,154 crore and diverting bank loans worth Rs 2,892 crore.

“Bank officers colluded with DSK Developers Ltd by misusing their power & authority with dishonest and fraudulent intention to sanction & disburse the amount of bank under the garb of loan which was siphoned off,” the Pune EoW said in a statement.

Apart from current and former officials of Bank of Maharashtra, two persons from the DSK Group have also been arrested. Sunil Ghatpande, CA with the DSK Group, Rajiv Newaskar, Vice President in the engineering department and Nityanand Deshpande, zonal manager of Bank of Maharashtra have also been arrested.

Last month, the Maharashtra government has issued a notification to attach 124 properties, 276 bank accounts and 46 vehicles of Kulkarni, his wife and other officials of the DSK Group under the provisions of the Maharashtra Protection of Interests of Depositors (Financial Establishments) Act 1999 for duping investors.

Over 500 property files missing from records of Agra development body

AGRA : Agra Development Authority (ADA) has sought an explanation from officials regarding 500 missing property files. These crucial documents contain records of property which were in violation of municipal building laws, or records about disputed land. Official sources suggest that the total value of the thousands of properties whose records are missing will run into crores of rupees. The ADA vice-chairman has warned employees of strict action in case no information about the files is provided by them.

Earlier, ADA had conducted satellite mapping of all the properties under its jurisdiction, and begun the process of computerising property records. For this, data feeding work was started seven months ago during the tenure of the then ADA vice-chairman Anil Dhingra. According to a senior ADA official, so far data feeding of all the available 35,000 property files has been completed. Recently, after cross checking with the property register, it surfaced that 500 files were missing. Officials and employees concerned were questioned but no significant information has surfaced. Besides, irregularities are being found in the database prepared. In some of the cases land details are not registered.

ADA secretary Hari Ram said, “Following data feeding, it surfaced that property record files in large numbers are missing. We are trying to recover them and understand the details about the properties. Details have been sought from officials and employees concerned.” According to sources, the missing files include those concerned with illegal constructions and ADA land which has been encroached. During the tenure of the previous government, cases of attempt to encroach ADA land at Bagh Farzana had surfaced.

The incumbent vice-chairman of ADA, Radhey Shyam Mishra is trying to identify each of the missing files. For proper record keeping, Mishra has ordered all the property department files to be differentiated by marking them in one of three colours. Those marked with red will signify matters of illegal encroachment, while yellow means ‘record missing’ and blue means ‘data feeding verified’, according to an ADA official.

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