RJD MLA Syed Abu Dojana, who is developing “Bihar’s biggest shopping mall” on land owned by party chief Lalu Prasad’s family, says his construction company, Meridian Construction (India) Ltd, is doing multiple projects across the state, and that most of these started after the RJD-JD(U) government came to power in Bihar.
“The construction firm was set up by me in 1995. I am an engineer, and while I was in college, I started the firm. The firm is engaged in several construction works but this is the first time we have undertaken construction of a shopping complex with Laluji,” Dojana told The Sunday Express, adding that his company earlier built Patna One Mall on Dak Bungalow road.
Asked about his meeting with the former Bihar CM, Dojana said, “Ahead of finalising the contract, I had met Laluji.”
The contract between Lalu’s daughter Chanda Yadav and Dojana to develop the shopping complex was signed on May 5, 2016, five months after Nitish Kumar was sworn in as head of the coalition government in Bihar.
Dojana, who signed the contract as CEO of the construction firm, had a no objection certificate from the Airports Authority of India, under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, for the project by July 2016. The certificate was needed for height since the hotel is in the vicitnity of the airport. According to the CBI, the land on which the shopping mall is being constructed by Dojana is part of the 3-acre premium land that was sold at a throwaway price to Lalu’s family in 2005, when he was railway minister, in exchange for handing over maintenance of two Railway hotels in Ranchi and Puri to Sujata Hotels Pvt Ltd, a company owned by Patna-based businessmen Vinay and Vijay Kochhar.
Refusing to talk about his financial dealings with Lalu or his family, Dojana only said, “Delight Marketing will own 55 per cent, we will own 45 per cent. There were other construction companies who bid for the project but they were offering only 50 per cent. We offered 55 percent.” The agreement however states that Meridian will have 43 per cent while Delight, a Delhi-based company with links to Lalu’s family, will be allocated 57 per cent.
When asked about the value of the property, the RJD MLA said, “I cannot make any assessment of the present market value due to the fluctuating rates post demonetisation.” Accusing BJP leader Sushil Modi of creating the controversy, Dojana said, “It is Modi (Sushil) who is spreading all kinds of false stories. The work at the site was stopped due to some environmental clearances. We have applied for permission, it will start soon.”