THE STATE government has asked actor Sanjay Khan’s company, which was to execute the Akhilesh regime’s ambitious Agra Theme Park project, to deposit around Rs 600 crore for government land that has been acquired and inform when work will begin, else its contract will be cancelled. Khan’s company Kingdom Entertainment Private Limited had signed an MoU with Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) in May, 2016 with regard to the project — estimated to cost around Rs 10,000 crore. “It has been over a year since the MoU was signed but no work has started on the ground. The company has not even made any payment for land acquisition. We have served it a notice, asking it to either inform us about its future plans or we will cancel its contract,” said Satish Mahana, Infrastructure and Industrial Development Minister.
He added that his department has identified around 100 companies, which were given concessions by the Akhilesh government but failed to start work on the ground. “Around 100 big and small units have been served notices to explain lack of work or slow speed of work. This theme park of Sanjay Khan is one of them,” said Mahana. “We want industrialisation but it is wrong that some people have taken concessions but failed to start work. We are reviewing all such projects so deserving units can be given opportunity,” he added.
When contacted, Regional Manager of Agra UPSIDC, K K Yadav, said: “UPSIDC had acquired about 990 acres in 2015. According to the MoU, the developer is supposed to pay for 80 per cent of the land, which along with interest, comes to about Rs 600 crore. Thus, the developer has been asked to explain the status of the project and make the payment. Else, some other developer will be given the project.”
However, sources said that before the Yogi government took charge, then CM Akhilesh Yadav had allowed a six-month extension to Khan’s company to pay for land acquisition. The six-month period will end in November.
When asked, Yadav said: “The company was given a year (to start work), which had lapsed. As per the provisions, it was allowed a 6-month extension, which will end in November. However, we hope the developer will soon make things clear on its own.” He added that so far, the company has only paid Rs 25 lakh as bank guarantee.
The initial proposal to develop the theme park was conceived in 2013. In August 2014, the government signed an initial MoU with Khan’s company to constitute a special purpose vehicle for setting up the theme park. The land acquisition for the project was completed in 2015. According to the government’s policy, UPSIDC was supposed to pay 20 per cent of the land acquisition cost. The rest was to be paid by the developer.
The UPSIDC decided that it will acquire the entire land — around 1000 acres along the inner ring road connecting the Lucknow-Agra Expressway — with its own funds first and then take the amount from the developer. A report of the Comptroller and Auditor General ending March 2015 had found that to pay for the land acquisition, UPSIDC had taken a loan of Rs 450 crore from Noida Authority in October 2014 at a interest rate of 13.20 per cent per annum.
In May 2016, Kingdom Entertainment Private Limited and UPSIDC signed a final MoU in the presence of Akhilesh Yadav and Sanjay Khan. It was decided that the park will showcase seven cities of different eras — ancient, medieval and modern, like Mohenjo Daro, Pataliputra as well as Gupta, Mahabharata and Ramayana ages. The park was also proposed to have five-star accommodation, shops and a place to organise weddings. In the first five years, around Rs 5,000 crore was to be invested in the project in a phased manner.