Scam-tainted Hiranandanis built the most lavish townships

April 8th, 2008 - 11:20 pm ICT by admin  

Mumbai, April 8 (IANS) The Hiranandanis, Mumbai’s leading private builders against whom searches were conducted Tuesday for a Rs.1.68 billion provident fund fraud, built lavish townships for the rich and famous in the city. They launched a prestigious construction project in Dubai and last month announced a mega special economic zone outside Hyderabad. “The ambience of their townships is such that when you enter the gates, you feel you are in America,” said a realty dealer from Borivli, Mayur Mehta.

Mumbai’s reputed Hiranandani Developers Private Ltd was launched in 1981 by the suave, smooth talking Niranjan and his brother Surendra, sons of the eminent ENT surgeon, L.H. Hiranandani.

The chartered accountant-turned developers duo started with a small building project at Versova, then considered a Wild West of north-west Mumbai but today one of the posh areas of the megapolis.

Several other small projects followed but they failed to hit big league. Their father was a Mumbai Congress party office-bearer and close to the fiery Congress leader, the late barrister Rajni Patel.

The company managed to shoot to prominence only in the mid to late 1980s with the launch of the mega-township opposite Powai Lake, the Hiranandani Gardens, one of the most tastefully designed and executed private housing projects in the city occupying over 300 acres.

It was a tract of lush green virgin land, mostly owned by the state government, with picturesque hills garlanding the Powai Lake.

They followed it up with another massive 300-acre Hiranandani Gardens in Thane and both became benchmarks for other builders to follow. They managed to carve their independent niche in the face of competition by other reputed big realtors groups like Shapoorji-Pallonji, Raheja, Lokhandwala, Rustomjee, Rizvi and Dheeraj.

Both townships, complete in all respects of providing public amenities, are dotted with nearly 300 skyscrapers and underground parking levels and have been the location for shootings of scores of Bollywood movies.

The estimated investments by the group is in the region of nearly Rs.20 billion (Rs.2,000 crore) so far, according to a close associate. The group companies include the flagship Hiranandani Properties Private Ltd, Hiranandani Private Developers Ltd, Messrs. Roma Builders Pvt Ltd and Messrs. Lake Meadow Hotels & Resorts Private Ltd.

“It must be kept in mind that the Hiranandanis catapulted to big time in those days when bank finances were almost non-existent, private sources of money were erratic, the industry was not properly organized, and they relied on their primary sources of funds from sale of properties that they planned to develop. It was high confidence levels of the prospective buyers that brought in the basic capital for them to execute projects. Today, there are developers much bigger than them and the industry is now corporatised,” the associate explained.

The townships are home to the rich and famous, and are the chosen destination for even foreign nationals working in Mumbai for various banks and multinationals.

After achieving success in their Mumbai projects, the duo recently embarked on a prestigious construction project in Dubai with Niranjan’s son managing the show there.

After an unsuccessful attempt at some projects in Bangalore in the early 2000s, he last month announced a Rs.7.50 billion multi-services special economic zone (SEZ) spread over 250-acres outside Hyderabad in collaboration with Lahari Infrastructures Ltd.

The total planned investment in the project, named Hiranandani Upscale, would be around Rs.120 billion over the next 14 years.

The group is also venturing into retail marketing, multiplexes, health care (one luxury hospital is functional at Andheri, north-east Mumbai), hotels and education.

The Hiranandanis are facing a major embarrassment with Tuesday’s raids by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The other officials under the CBI scanner include Regional Provident Fund Commissioner of Maharashtra K.S. Arya, two assistant PF commissioners Rajnikant and K. Gopalan, and a former regional PF commissioner M.R. Yadav.

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