Category Archives: Down with the Anti-national Congress Party

Rajiv Gandhi told me to use arms deal payoffs for party funds: Ex-CBI chief

The just-released book, Unknown Facets of Rajiv Gandhi, Jyoti Basu and Indrajit Gupta, is written by former CBI director Dr A P Mukherjee.The just-released book, Unknown Facets of Rajiv Gandhi, Jyoti Basu and Indrajit Gupta, is written by former CBI director Dr A P Mukherjee.
Rajiv, incidentally, was caught in the thick of the Bofors guns bribery scandal at that time.

At a time when the funding of political parties is the subject of fresh controversy, a new book has claimed that Rajiv Gandhi, as Prime Minister, wanted commissions given by defence suppliers to be pooled and used to fund the “inescapable expenses of the party”.

The just-released book, Unknown Facets of Rajiv Gandhi, Jyoti Basu and Indrajit Gupta, is written by former CBI director Dr A P Mukherjee and the claim is based on his conversations with Rajiv in June 1989, the author has said.

Rajiv, incidentally, was caught in the thick of the Bofors guns bribery scandal at that time and lost power later that year.

“Rajiv Gandhi was very clear that commissions paid as a routine by most defence dealers should be properly accounted for and not siphoned off by dishonest officials of the armed forces and politicians…he wanted such payments to be pooled and accounted for,” Mukherjee has written.

“This (elections) leads to massive fund collections by important party functionaries all over the country, which leads to an almost unbreakable unholy quid pro quo nexus between unscrupulous party functionaries, ministers and businessmen. I could sense this as the party’s general secretary or even as its youth leader earlier when I had to enter the political arena with considerable reluctance,” Rajiv told him over coffee, Mukherjee has written.

Rajiv, he says, had come to know that some senior officers of the armed forces had been surreptitiously collecting huge amounts of money as “commissions” in most defence purchases, quite often in connivance with some ministers, middlemen and civilian officers as well.

Rajiv, the former CBI director says, “discussed this problem with some of his trusted colleagues and advisers when it was suggested by some that all commissions as payable or usually paid to middlemen should be banned but the commissions to be given as a matter of routine practice by the suppliers of major defence materials could be pooled under the care of some non-government entity which could be utilised solely for the purpose of meeting the inescapable expenses of the party.

“As Rajiv Gandhi further stated, such a step would largely prevent the collusive nexus between the middlemen, ministers, bureaucrats and that such a step could enable the government to do away with the quid pro quo relationship with some unscrupulous businessmen and equally unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats.

“Hence he endorsed the same. He also indicated that he favoured some legislation in line with the practices of some of the western countries where contributions to party funds by business houses and industrial houses and individuals were allowed with provisions for their proper accounting, auditing and public disclosure. But the wild, motivated and widespread adverse publicity obscured the prospect of proceeding further in the above manner.”

Mukherjee was additional director of CBI when he says he had this detailed conversation with Rajiv. The conversation had been precisely recollected by him in the book thanks to the diaries he maintained through his career, he told The Indian Express.

Mukherjee, who was advisor to home minister Indrajit Gupta and also served a brief stint as governor of Mizoram, has written that for years he felt making this episode public would have amounted to betraying the former prime minister’s trust, and that is something he could never think of doing.

“However, at this distant time and that too long after his tragic death, I owe it to posterity to narrate the full and complete disclosure of all that transpired between the two of us during this memorable coffee meeting with this remarkable human being whose trust I was privileged to receive in ample measure.”

The intelligence officers who briefed vital national security info to non-entity Raul Vinci must be shot for treason

Baffled, intelligence officials slam Rahul Gandhi

Bharti Jain & Deeptiman Tiwary,TNN | Oct 25, 2013, 02.54AM IST 

They are questioning how an intelligence official could brief the vice-president of a political party, who is not bound by the oath of secrecy.

NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi’s reference to his briefing by an “intelligence official” on the ISI having “contacted” 10-15 youth whose kin were killed in the Muzaffarnagar riots, for potential recruitment, has puzzled both retired and serving bureaucrats.

They are questioning how an intelligence official could brief the vice-president of a political party, who is not bound by the oath of secrecy. They also criticized the Gandhi scion for going public with information that should have ideally prompted a secret intelligence operation to identify the youth contacted and neutralize the ISI agents carrying out sabotage and subversion in the hinterland.

“A potential prime minister of the country should have had more sense of national security. ISI is a hostile foreign agency recruiting people in the hinterland for sabotage and subversion. Rahul’s response should have been more robust and decisive. He should have asked the intelligence official to go back to the Muslim boys contacted by ISI, lay a trap for these Pakistani agents and neutralize them,” said former Intelligence Bureau chief Ajit Kumar Doval.

A former home secretary, who did not wish to be identified, agreed that Rahul’s act of going public with the alleged intelligence input had compromised national security and only reflected his “immaturity”.

A serving officer of the intelligence establishment pointed out that the IB official who “briefed” the Congress vice-president had clearly exceeded his brief as an intelligence input could only be shared with a government functionary bound by the oath of secrecy.

Another ex-bureaucrat said the ideal response should have been to round up the youths supposedly contacted by the ISI, question them and launch a manhunt for the ISI agents involved. “Instead, he seems to be using this input to score with the minority community and target his political rivals,” he said.

“Going public with the crucial input, that should have ideally led to a major intelligence operation to neutralize the ISI networks working to recruit more such youth across the country, is a gross act of irresponsibility,” said Doval.

Rahul’s utterances on an IB officer briefing him about how victims of Muzaffarnagar riots were willing to go to Pakistan has created considerable curiosity in the agency itself. A senior intelligence officer told TOI that it may have to be found out which officer had met him and whether it was a casual interaction. “There can be no official briefing to Rahul Gandhi as he is not part of the government or the security establishment,”

US court summons Sonia for manipulating #1984SikhGenocide case. Good! Queen is in US, arrest her & dont let her return

सिख दंगा: अमेरिकी कोर्ट से सोनिया गांधी को समन

भाषा | Sep 4, 2013, 05.03PM IST

न्यू यॉर्क।। अमेरिका में न्यू यॉर्क की एक संघीय अदालत ने 1984 के सिख विरोधी दंगों में शामिल होने के आरोपी कांग्रेसी नेताओं को बचाने को लेकर पार्टी अध्यक्ष सोनिया गांधी को समन जारी किया है।न्यू यॉर्क की यूएस ईस्टर्न डिस्ट्रिक्ट कोर्ट की ओर से सोनिया गांधी को समन जारी किया गया गया है। सिख फॉर जस्टिस (एसएफजे) और दंगों के दो पीडितों ने कोर्ट के समक्ष याचिका दायर की थी।

इसमें आरोप लगाया गया है कि सोनिया गांधी अपनी कांग्रेस पार्टी के उन कार्यकार्ओतों और नेताओं को बचा रही हैं, जो 1984 के दंगों में कथित तौर पर शामिल थे। यह केस अमेरिका के एलियन टॉर्ट क्लेम्स कानून और प्रताड़ना के पीड़ितों को सुरक्षा देने संबंधी कानूनों के तहत दायर किए गए हैं।अब सिख्स फॉर जस्टिस संस्था की कोशिश है कि यह समन सोनिया गांधी तक पहुंचाया जाए जो इन दिनों अमेरिका के निजी दौर पर हैं। अमेरिकी कानून के तहत सोनिया गांधी को यह समन व्यक्तिगत रूप से देना होगा। उसके बाद किसी प्रकार की कोई अदालती कार्यवाही शुरू हो सकेगी। समन मिलने के बाद सोनिया गांधी को समय दिया जाएगा कि वह अदालत में उनके खिलाफ लगे आरोपों का जवाब दाखिल कराएं।

इस मसले पर प्रतिक्रिया व्यक्त करते हुए कांग्रेस प्रवक्ता अभिषेक मनु सिंघवी ने कहा कि इन तथ्यों के बारे में उन्हें कोई जानकारी नहीं है।

Vadra falsified documents to collect premium — Khemka. SoniaG should write to PM the way she batted for Durga Shakti.

Published: August 10, 2013 03:27 IST | Updated: August 10, 2013 03:27 IST

Ousted after probing Vadra land deal, Khemka digs deeper

    Chander Suta Dogra
    Shalini Singh

Working largely on his own in order to rebut the Haryana government’s charge of having acted improperly in ordering the cancellation of the Robert Vadra-DLF land deal, senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka has sought to reconstruct the precise manner in which the controversial property transaction was put together.
Mr. Khemka was Director General, Land Holdings and Land Records and Inspector General of Registration, Haryana, in October 2012 when he decided to set aside the mutation of Mr. Vadra’s property giving effect to the sale deed in favour of DLF. Mr. Khemka’s decision came in the wake of an inquiry he conducted following the publication of a story, ‘Behind Robert Vadra’s fortunes, a maze of questions,’ in The Hindu on October 8, 2012,
Even as he was completing his probe, he was summarily transferred out of the crucial post. A Haryana government committee subsequently indicted him for acting wrongly in the Vadra case. In a tough and detailed counter, Mr. Khemka has listed out a number of irregularities and illegalities involving the Vadra-DLF deal.
The Corporation Bank cheque bearing number 607251 for Rs 7.5 crores, mentioned in sale deed no. 4928 of 12 February 2008, did not belong to Robert Vadra’s company, Skylight Hospitality. It is “likely that a fictitious cheque number was shown by the company with the full consent and knowledge of DLF to enable it to get legal title of land,” Mr. Khemka states in his submission to the Haryana government. This, because at the time of registering the sale deed, Skylight Hospitality did not have the money in its accounts to pay the Rs. 7.95 crores needed for land cost and stamp duty on the deed. Because no money changed hands as stated in the registered sale deed, and the stamp duty of Rs. 45 lakhs was also paid by Onkareshwar Properties and not Mr. Vadra’s company as stated in the deed, this amounts to making false statements punishable under Section 82 of the Registration Act, he states.
Consequently, in the balance sheets filed by the company as on March 31 2008, the bank balance is wrongly shown as a book overdraft of Rs. 7,94,00,000, because the cheque for Rs. 7.5 crores was never presented, says he.
Within two months of this, Mr. Vadra had entered into an agreement to sell the land to DLF for Rs. 58 crores and began receiving the money in instalments, as advance. The first of these instalments came in June 2008 and Mr. Khemka states that “The payment to Onkareshwar Properties was made from the advance money that was received from DLF Universal.” In other words, Mr. Vadra’s company began receiving money into its accounts without investing any of its own funds to buy the land.
Mr. Khemka goes on to say that the DTCP issued the company an LoI for a colony licence, without verifying the genuineness of the sale transactions or the capacity of Skylight Hospitality to develop a commercial colony in the first place.
At that time the company had zero income with a paid up capital of Rs. one lakh and the expenditure of Rs. 43,000 that it had incurred was met using borrowed money. But, “the capacity of the applicant company was nothing else other than Mr. Robert Vadra. The man became a measure of everything and the entire statutory apparatus a castle of sand,” says Mr. Khemka’s reply. Both the land title and LoI were necessary conditions to enable Mr. Vadra’s company to receive advances and execute a collaboration agreement with DLF Ltd for development of the land. The DTCP helped in other ways too.
DLF applied twice in August and in September 2008 for a commercial licence for this land, which it did not get. Then, on 18 November 2008 (the reasons are not clear, Mr. Khemka writes, because the department did not provide him the documents), Skylight makes a fresh application to the DTCP, and the collaboration agreement is indicated in the application to justify the ‘capacity’ of Skylight Hospitality to develop a colony. The agreement records that Skylight had by then transferred possession of the land to DLF.
“The agreement which was not registered was entertained illegally by the DTCP, even though Skylight had transferred possession of the land” by then. “This in itself was sufficient to withdraw the first letter of intent issued in March. Instead, Licence no 203 of 2008 was granted to M/s Skylight Hospitality on 15/12/2008. … This proves that all transactions entered into by M/s Skylight were sham,” says Mr. Khemka.
Mr. Khemka points out that as per the Collaboration Agreement, the Land Owners contribution was the Land Title and a Letter of Intent from the DTCP for grant of commercial colony licence on 2.701 acres; the rest of the responsibility was of the Developer, including obtaining commercial colony licence from DTCP, development of commercial project/buildings with FAR of 175 and maintenance of the assets created. In addition, the gross commercial area developed (which translates to a staggering 2,05,820 sq ft) was to be shared equally between the Land Owner and the Developer. This shows that Skylight Hospitality had no intent to develop the land.
“The Land Title and LoI for grant of commercial colony licence were sham transactions routed through M/s Skylight Hospitality so that part of the unofficial premium on account of commercial colony licence is remitted in white by the Developer, M/s DLF Retail Developers, to M/s Skylight Hospitality acting as a middleman to the deal of obtaining colony licence from the DTCP.”
Mr. Khemka has further discovered that the authorised signatory of M/s DLF Retail Developers Ltd in their applications dated 21.08.2008 and 24.09.2008 to the DTCP for commercial licence for 2.701 acres is Devinder Singh. However, the same person is also the special power of attorney holder of Skylight Hospitality in the same applications. This means that both DLF and Skylight Hospitality are represented by the same person who has been simultaneously signing multiple documents for both parties.
What prompted Onkareshwar Properties, a company that has close connections with top ruling Haryana politicians, to oblige Skylight Hospitality? Mr. Khemka points out that after executing the sale deed in favour of Mr. Vadra’s Skylight without receiving Rs. 7.9 crores as sales consideration, the company was given two group housing licences in village Sihi Sector 82 of Gurgaon for 6.2 acres and 15 acres. It was granted another licence for plotted development for 4.8 acres in Shikohpur, taking its net assets, which stood at Rs 6783 in March 2005, to a bank balance of Rs. 70.84 crores by March 2011 with a paid up share capital of just Rs. 25 lakhs.

‘Vadra used falsified documents, sham transactions to collect premium on land deal’

  • IAS officer Ashok Khemka has submitted a report on Robert Vadra's land deals.
    PTIIAS officer Ashok Khemka has submitted a report on Robert Vadra’s land deals.
  • IAS officer Ashok Khemka has submitted a report on Robert Vadra's land deals.
    IAS officer Ashok Khemka has submitted a report on Robert Vadra’s land deals.

Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka submits 100-page report to government

Ashok Khemka, the Haryana IAS officer who cancelled a land deal mutation between Robert Vadra and real estate giant DLF Universal Ltd last October, has told the Haryana government that Mr. Vadra falsified documents and executed a series of sham transactions for 3.53 acres land in Shikohpur village of Gurgaon, thereby pocketing a hefty premium on a commercial colony licence through money that he could account for.
Mr. Vadra, who is Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law, was favoured and aided in making these ‘sham transactions’ by Haryana’s Department of Town and Country Planning (DTCP), alleges Mr. Khemka, accusing the department of ignoring rules and regulations “to allow crony capitalists operating as middlemen to flourish and appropriate [the] market premium of a licence.”
He has made these assertions in a 100-page reply to a report of a three-member enquiry committee set up by the Haryana government last October to look into the Vadra-DLF deal. The committee had indicted Mr. Khemka for cancelling the deal. Mr. Khemka’s reply, submitted on May 21 and accessed by The Hindu, has been put together with the help of publicly available documents and his own findings, after the government stonewalled his efforts to get the official documents concerning the sale, issue and transfer of the license to DLF.
Though nearly three months have elapsed since his reply was submitted, Haryana Chief Secretary P.K. Chaudhary told The Hindu that Mr. Khemka’s “voluminous reply is being examined and the points raised by him are being looked into.”
Mr. Khemka states that both the sale deed of February 12, 2008 — through which Mr. Vadra’s company, Skylight Hospitality, bought the land from Onkareshwar Properties — and the letter of intent for granting a commercial licence to his company issued by the DTCP in March 2008 are sham transactions, executed only to enable Mr. Vadra to collect market premium accruing to him due to state largesse.
“If there was no payment as alleged in the registered deed, can it be said that the registered deed conferred ownership title over the said land upon Skylight Hospitality by virtue of the sham sale?” he asks.
The law defines “sale” as a transfer of ownership in exchange for a price paid or promised or part-paid and part promised. Mr. Khemka notes that “there was no promise to pay in the future in the registered deed. No price was paid as claimed in the registered deed … The “sale” registered in the said deed cannot, therefore, be called a “sale” in the true sense of the term, legal or moral, and it cannot be said that Skylight Hospitality became owner of the land in question by virtue of the “sale” registered in [the] deed.”
According to Section 82 of the Registration Act, 1908, the penalty for making false statements, delivering false copies or translations, false personation, and abetment is punishable with imprisonment up to 7 years, he notes.
Earlier this year, the Haryana government’s committee had concluded that the orders passed by Mr. Khemka initiating an enquiry into Mr. Vadra’s land deals were “without jurisdiction, inappropriate and not covered under any provisions of any statute or rules.” Also, that his order cancelling the land mutation was administratively improper. Mr. Khemka was not permitted to present his stand before this committee.
In his reply to the committee’s indictment, Mr. Khemka states that not just the sale deed through which Mr. Vadra became the owner of the land, but the balance sheets filed by Skylight Hospitality as on 31 March 2008 are also false. These, he says are offences under Sections 417, 468 and 471 of the IPC and the Companies Act 1956. Further, on 5 August 2008, Skylight Hospitality entered into an unregistered collaboration agreement with DLF Universal for 2.7 acres of this land, that Mr. Khemka terms as “an illegality that led to [the] loss of crores of revenue to the State exchequer” because a collaboration agreement of this kind has to be registered.
“It was known all along to the DTCP that the actual developer of the colony would be DLF and the routing of the transaction through Skylight was a subterfuge to remit part premium into the accounts of Skylight Hospitality Private Ltd,” he says.
The DTCP permitted Skylight to transfer the licence to DLF in April 2012, and the licensed land was finally sold to DLF on 18th September 2012. Mr. Khemka goes on to say, “By allowing the transfer of licence issued in the name of Skylight to DLF, the DTCP created a black market for trading in licences where cronies are issued licences which are later sold or transferred with ‘permission’ of the authority for a fat consideration, to the real developers.” He has demanded a white paper on the transfer of all such licences permitted in the past to “expose the diabolical game of looting public wealth.”
According to Mr. Khemka’s note, the DTCP issued various types of colony licences for a total of 21,366 acres in the last 8 years of Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s tenure from 2005 to 2012. He points out that if the market premium for a colony licence is assumed to be as low as Rs. 1 crore/acre, the land-licensing scam in the past eight years is worth roughly Rs. 20,000 crore. At the premium of Rs. 15.78 crore/acre that Mr. Vadra earned, this figure would jump to a staggering Rs. 3.5 lakh crore.

RahulG’s (Raul Vinci?) – Dr. Swamy writes to HE President of India

May 11, 2013.

Mr. Pranab Mukherjee,
President of India,
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi.

Dear Mr. President,

I am enclosing with this letter a copy of the news item which had appeared in the Indian Express sometime ago. It carries a facsimile of a certificate issued by the Secretary of the Development Studies Committee, University of Cambridge. While I was on a visit to the University two years ago, I had visited this Department as also spoke with the concerned authority in the University. I was informed in confidence that an individual by name Mr. Raul Vinci was the pseudonym of Mr. Rahul Gandhi (now MP) and that he had taken this pseudonym for his personal security. The enclosed news item from New Indian Express, Chennai states the same. Hence the matter requires investigation since Mr. Gandhi is a MP. Question also arises how Mr. Gandhi had paid the necessary fees for being a student in the University and from which bank account (Pictet Bank, Zurich or from India with RBI permission)? Was he also, for the sake of his security, traveling abroad to and fro UK on an Italian passport in the name of Rahul Vinci?

In view of the fact that Mr. Rahul Gandhi is a Member of Parliament, this would attract proceedings for disqualification under Article 103 of the Constitution. Hence I urge you to have this matter probed into in a comprehensive way by the Election Commission.

Yours sincerely,


How a Rajasthan village lost to Robert Vadra

French solar firm leaped 180-km from original location to buy land from Vadra firms in Gajner

Umrao Khan is a driver who retired from Rajasthan’s state-run roadways. More than ten years ago, he bought 50 bighas of land in Sujasar village, about 20 kilometres from Pokharan, best known for being India’s nuclear test site, at a price of Rs 3,000 per bigha. Across a dirt track lay a vast stretch, the villagers put it at roughly 1600-1700 bighas, where the proposed Rajasthan Solar Processing Zone was to come up.

But four years after the land bank was developed by Jodhpur-based Ashapurna Buildcon, the solar energy zone RSPZ remains a rusting board standing in the middle of the desert.

That’s because Gajner, another non-descript village about 180 kilometres north-east on the highway to Bikaner, weaned away two solar power generation projects that RPSZ had planned to kickstart with.

Originally famous for a lake-side palace-turned-luxury hotel, Gajner is fast emerging as one of the largest renewable energy hubs thanks to a special interest shown in the region by Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, who has built a formidable land bank here through Mahesh Nagar, brother of a Faridabad-based Congress politician.

Here is the story of how an Aam village lost its solar plants and the developments these would have brought to a VIP village.

A portion of the RPSZ boundary marked by white stone pillars is still visible. Adjoining Khan’s plot is a piece of land which once belonged to his cousin but is now owned by the Jodhpur-based developer.

“Is jaga ka mera chowkidaari hai (I keep a watch on this land),” Khan said.

At the top right corner of this plot, a few Photovoltaic (PV) plates are mounted at an angle of 60 degrees on a metal frame about the size of a mini-theatre. There is an empty room painted in white-and-blue. To an onlooker it seems as if some solar-related activity is on, till Khan throws in the spoiler.

“Nothing is produced in there. Even the power for the single bulb is drawn from my house,” he chuckles.

RSPZ was supposed to be a full-fledged solar park with a total capacity of 100 megawatt (mw). Among the companies that lined up to set up shop were Fonrochie Energie, a five-year-old French firm focusing on renewable energy, started by a young solar entrepreneur Yann Maus. Fonroche’s India plans were to commence with two plants with a combined capacity of 20 MW in the land Khan guards.

Wooing Fonroche

Enter Vadra. Though Rajasthan government had put up a 220 KV grid substation on National highway-15 that cuts through Gajner, making his holdings close to this station ideal for solar plants, none of the project developers who won the competitive bidding under the government programmes chose Gajner.

Vadra lacked a credible anchor who could move in first and spark the development in several hundred hectares of desert he had bought.

Fonroche, with its international credentials and enviable track record in the solar energy, fitted the bill perfectly.   While founder Maus still holds about 52%, private equity fund Eurazeo holds 39% in the company.  Fonroche has entered into a equal joint venture with Mumbai-based PR Clean Energy for its India operations. The joint venture called PR Fonroche plans to invest up to Rs 800 crore this year.

Business Standard investigations reveal that Fonroche bought Vadra’s land in May 2012, four months after it had finalized plans in Sujasar. Though it had entered into power purchase agreements citing project location as Sujasar and Galar, another hamlet that borders Sujasar, Fonroche changed  its mind and picked the land Vadra had to offer. A little over six months later it announced the launch of its first plant from Gajner.

Global companies such as Fonroche, and Indian corporate groups such as Reliance,Tatas. Mahindra, L&T, Welspun are rushing to catch the Indian sun largely due to the impetus provided by a central government program called Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission or JNNSM, which under the brand ‘Solar India’ aims to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, “by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible.”

“The 80% accelerated depreciation available to project developers in the first year itself is a big draw for investors,” said an official of a power company.

How the mission works

The Mission has set a target of 20,000 MW to be achieved in three phases (first phase up to 2012-13, second phase from 2013 to 2017 and the third phase from 2017 to 2022) for various components, including grid connected solar power. JNNSM has proposed a mechanism of “bundling” relatively expensive solar power with power from the unallocated quota of the Government of India (Ministry of Power) generated at National Thermal Power Corporation’s coal based stations, which is relatively cheaper.

This “bundled power” would be sold to the distribution companies. JNNSM also provides for NTPC’s Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd or NVVN to be the designated nodal agency for procuring solar power by entering into Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with Solar Power Generation Project Developers. “For each MW of installed capacity of solar power for which a PPA is signed by NVVN, the Ministry of Power shall allocate to NVVN an equivalent amount of MW capacity from the unallocated quota of NTPC coal-based stations and NVVN will supply this “bundled” power to the distribution utilities,” according to the policy.

Rajasthan’s Jodhpur-Jaisalmer- Bikaner belt has the highest solar irradiation in the country @6.4-6.6 kilowatthour per square metre. This area, which also has 12 hours of sunlight for over 330 days every year, is best suited to put solar plants.
That’s why in the first batch of phase I, 20 of 28 solar project developers chose locations in Rajasthan. In December 2011, the government awarded the bids under phase I batch II of the mission. Some 24 developers emerged winners. Among them were Fonroche Raajhans Energy and Fonroche Saaras Energy.

From Sujasar to Gajner

In January 2012, both companies entered into a power purchase agreements with NVVN. According to the list of project developers put up by NVVN, reviewed by Business Standard, Fonroche Raajhans was to put up a 5 MW plant in “Gram Galar, near Ramdevra, Tehsil Pokharan.” Similarly, the location of 15MW plant for which Fonroche Saaras signed the PPA was mentioned as “gram Sujasar, near Ramdevra, Tehsil Pokhran.” This was because at this point both firms had got into a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU with the developer of RSPZ which spread across these two villages. “We had an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Fonroche and a couple of others. But they did not keep their commitments,” said Arjun Singh of Jodhpur-based Ashapurna Buildcon.

Ghewar Singh, Sujasar-based landlord and farmer said the ‘companies’ have been buying land in the region since 2009. “They have bought in ‘thukkadas’ (small pieces). Kisi se das bigha, Kisi se sou.(ten bighas from some, hundred from some) The rates have also varied from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 for a bigha.” In Rajasthan, 3.965 bighas make a hectare.

Ghewar’s brother, Badam Singh, an elderly man with a white pagdi and glasses, said nobody would sell for less than Rs 50,000 per bigha today, though rates have touched Rs 10 lakh near the highway. “The actual setting up of plants may not make a big difference if there are no incentives for the local communities such as jobs or free electricity,” said Singh.The older brother sits with regional newspapers strewn around him and identifies Fonroche as the company that bought land from Vadra. Even some of the younger Sujasar residents connect Vadra with Fonroche, which twists their tongue. But none of the villagers are aware that Vadra’s gain was their loss.

Sale deeds registered in Kolayat, the registry under which Gajner falls, reviewed by Business Standard, showed that on May 23, 2012, Vadra’s front man Nagar, executed four different deals with the Fonroche twins. Through these deals, the two firms bought 62.44 hectares of Gajner land for Rs 4.24 crore.

While the developer said Fonroche backtracked, the company said the requisite infrastructure was not in place in Sujasar. “At the time of entering in to the PPA we had a basic MOU with the developer in Sujasar to discuss the possibility depending on their ability to provide the necessary infrastructure,” said Pratap Raju, joint managing director of PR Fonroche. “We had an EPC tie-up with Mahindras. Since the infrastructure was not ready in time we started looking for land between January and April and zeroed in on the land in Gajner.” An email sent to Vadra’s personal assistant Manoj Arora seeking comments did not elicit any response.

Raju said he did not know the seller was a company related to Vadra when the deals were done. “We got to know only when the newspaper reports started coming in October that we might have bought from him.” He said it would cost about Rs 30 lakh per km to build a 33kv transmission line as specified by the government. “In Rajasthan land is everywhere. Price of the land comes to only three% of the total project cost. Assuming we put up the project some 15-20 km from the power station, evacuation costs alone would have been around Rs 6 crore,” Raju said, adding that price of land should be seen in this context.

Minimum evacuation costs

Helped by Mahindra Solar, its EPC partner, Fonroche has begun power generation in its Gajner based plant. Located just stone’s throw from the 220kv grid sub-station, evacuation costs are minimum. Three blue-uniformed security guards, who sit guarding the Fonroche plant off the highway, refer to it as the “Mahindra plant.”

Across the road, sits a petty shop catering to the guards and other labourers of the plant. Nandkumar Naik, who set shop around the time the plant started, points to the huge fenced parcel of land behind him. “That is about 70 acres. Reliance has bought. They are trying to buy more. Once it is complete, they will start putting up the plant,” he said. The guards corroborate the imminent Reliance entry in Gajner.

Along the trail of 33Kv towers, one B M Developers is putting up a 5Mw project about ten km from the Gajner sub-station. Workers are still putting up the towers. A few Tamil-speaking engineers are completing the electrical work. One of them says the land prices have shot up from Rs 1 lakh per acre when their client bought to Rs 8 lakh per acre now. Apart from these, not much work could be seen in Gajner itself though many developers are said to have bought from Vadra and others.

In December 2011, Fonroche Rajhans and Fonroche Saaras win Letter of Intents under JNNSM phase-1 Batch-II
Fonroche enter into an MOU with Jodhpur-based developer which had land bank in Sujasar/Galar
In Jan 2012, Fonroche named Sujasar/Galar, near Pokharan as plant location while entering into a power purchase agreement with NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam, a state-owned power trading firm
In May 2012, Fonroche shifts plants 180 km north- east to Gajner after buying land from Vadra’s firms
In December 2012, Fonroche plant became operational in Gajner

About 15 km away, near Kolayat, is a substation. A couple of projects are coming up a few kilometers from here on the road to Deh. Charan Kumar Chowdry is putting up a project for Rays Power Experts. Chowdry, who has a 45-kilomtre commute from Bikaner, says engineers like him are in demand. He was a cluster manager with Reliance Communications for over a decade before moving into the solar boom.

The company he works for is putting up a park model, wherein it is allowing “small investors” to buy capacities of as low as 250KV. (1000 KV make a Megawatt). “Maximum size available here is 10 MW, which could cost about  Rs 70 crore,” said Chowdry.  He gives different numbers for the transmission towers. According to him, a tower costs about Rs 1-2 lakh and a tower is needed every 200 metres. That puts evacuation costs at a fraction of what Fonroche estimates.

Yet to see a plant

Though Sujasar residents do not realize this, Sujasar appears to be among the few places in the original list that is yet to see a plant come up. Nearby solar hubs such as Dhursar, on the Jodhpur- Pokharan road, and Askandra have received big investments from companies such as Reliance Power and Lanco Infratech.

“About 150 people worked in shifts when the construction was on. Now it’s down to about 60-65,” said Durjar Singh, who works for G4S Security Services which covers the Lanco plant, Singh said spreads over some 4,000 acres.  The local people estimate Lanco, with approvals for 235mw, has completed 35mw so far.

About 90 kms from Pokhran, in Phalodi taluk of Jodhpur district, several other projects have sprung up. A 25 km stretch between Bap on the National Highway to Bikaner and Kanasar is dotted by Welspun, Punj Lloyd and Green infra solutions projects, most of them commissioned. A Haryana-based developer Conflux infratech has even put up a 1 MW plant just off the highway. “It’s about 21 bighas,” the young security guard said.

Once the Photovoltaic plates are set up, not much manpower is required to run a solar plant, apart from security and maintenance staff. “Dusting of the plates by sand is a typical problem in Rajasthan. A 20mw plant would require about 30 people for maintenance,” says a Bikaner-based solar entrepreneur.

The Fonroche effect

Meanwhile in Sujasar, after Fonroche, LEPL projects, a Vijayawada-based developer also pulled out. Ashapurna’s Arjun Singh said he has roped in Andhra-based Srisakthi Alternative Energy to revive the park in Sujasar-galar, which Rahamatullah, the teenage driver of a Phat-Phat argues, is in Dudhia and not in Sujasar.

“We have already received commitments for 70 mw from some reputed corporate names. We are in the process of tying up the rest. Some government approvals for the park are also pending,” said Arjun Singh of Ashapurna Buildcon.

The villagers say it’s the Tatas who are in talks now. “They want the developer to build the approach road before finalizing the deal,” one of them said.

“I said I want to buy here only as my father and relatives had land holdings here,” Umrao Khan of Sujasar said. Khan and his sons have turned their land into an island of green amid the vast stretches of wasteland with nothing but tropical shrubs. Khan won’t sell though he says he has received offers of up to Rs 2.5 crore. “I make up to Rs 5-7 lakh out of this land, every year,” he said.

Fed up with calls about the project, Khan says he tells people that the armed forces have taken over the place and that it a shooting range now. “Dalal bahut ho gaye. Pareshan karte hain.” Who are these Dalals? How can they be reached? “Everyone is a Dalal these days. Even farmers, anyone. Bas itna hi bolna hai. Zameen hai. Dila sakta hoon. Ban gaye Dalal  . (All you have to say is you can get land and you are a broker).”

Khan wouldn’t tell if he was referring to the biggest of them all. But a smirk spills out of his beard leaving no room for doubt.