Calcutta, Sept. 16: An ugly slugfest has broken out between the promoters of Bengal Aerotropolis Projects, the company developing the airport city at Andal, ahead of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s maiden visit to the site on September 19.
Raj Sekhar Agarwal, a promoter of Pragati 47, an indirect shareholder in BAPL, has called a press meet tomorrow to air his views on the affairs of the airport.
Partho Ghosh, a director of BAPL and the public face of the project, termed the move as a “last ditch attempt to” derail the project ahead of Mamata’s visit.
“I have been trying to resolve the matter for long. People should know about the genesis of the project and the problem,” Agarwal said tonight.
An email from Ghosh said Agarwal has resorted to blackmail tactics. “Having learnt of the ensuing visit of the chief minister to the Aerotropolis site on the 19th, this is his (Agarwal) last ditch attempt to malign the BAPL promoters in public, hoping that they would succumb to his blackmail keeping in view the sensitivity of the time,” Ghosh wrote.
Agarwal, however, said the timing of going to the public was “purely coincidental”.
The airport city project is nearing completion and is likely to be operational by Poila Boishakh (Bengali New Year in April) next year.
The runway, the air traffic control building and the terminal are ready, though equipment has not been installed.
The project is spread over a 1977-acre plot where the airport will take up 650 acres. The rest is split among residential projects, light industry and a logistic hub, among others.
Mamata Banerjee, who once did not have a favourable opinion on the project, will tour the site and name the airport after Kavi Najrul. Incidentally, Alchemist, a group of companies owned by KD Singh, a Trinamul Congress MP, has acquired 20 acres here to build a township.
Three institutional shareholders and three individuals through their respective group firms hold the shares of BAPL. Singapore’s Changi has a 26 per cent stake, while infrastructure major ILFS holds around 12.5 per cent. The WBIDC also holds close to 1.5 per cent in the firm. Three individual shareholders of the company are R.R. Modi, Utsav Parikh and Ghosh, through different corporate entities.
The trouble between Agarwal and BAPL began in early 2010 over the control of Pragati 47. Both Ghosh and Agarwal claimed to own majority stakes in the firm. During that time, Agarwal stepped down as a director of both BAPL and Pragati firms.
Since then the matter has been subjudice in different legal forums, including Alipore Court, the Company Law Board and the Calcutta High Court. Ghosh claimed Agarwal has not got any respite from any of these places so far.