Amidst reports of its financial downside, Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved has approached the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSCB) for a loan for its much-delayed proposed food processing park here. Coming up in the non-SEZ area of Multimodal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN), the unit’s foundation was laid in 2017 by Union Minister Gadkari and Ramdev amidst much fanfare. They had then said that the unit would begin operations in February 2018.
Gadkari had said here last week that he had told MSCB to provide finance to Patanjali to enable it to start operations soon.
Acharya Balkrishna, the company’s Chairman, had told The Indian Express recently that the unit will become operational around Diwali and would buy the first orange crop this season from farmers in Vidarbha.
Asked why the Nagpur unit was getting delayed, Balkrishna had said, “We had simultaneously embarked on many other projects, so our financial resources had got divided. But we have completed our construction and have also brought the necessary machinery to the place. We have already invested about Rs1,200 crore so far at Nagpur.”
Meanwhile, however, Gadkari had said he had intervened to facilitate early beginning of the project by telling the MSCB to finance the Nagpur protect. On Saturday, Balkrishna said, “What Mr Gadkari had said is absolutely correct. We have sought loan from the bank. But it said it can’t be the main financier and the lead bank will have to be different. We hope things will work out soon.”
MSCB Administrative Board Chairman Vidyadhar Anaskar said, “Mr Gadkari has spoken to me but I am yet to get any proposal.” Asked if it is within MSCB’s realm to finance an FMCG company like Patanjali, Anaskar said, “We are not supposed to finance any company producing consumer products. And Patanjali is one of the kind.”
He, however, added, “we will do as NABARD will tell. But NABARD only tells the kind of industry we can finance, not any particular unit as such.”
When pointed out if MSCB can finance a company reportedly facing financial problems, Anaskar said, “Any finance is always done taking risk into consideration. If the company is in financial problem, it will definitely be a factor in deciding if it can be financed.”
Patanjali was given 234 acre of land in the MIHAN non-SEZ area in 2017 at a reportedly cheap rate by the Maharashtra government. The company had later also purchased 106 acre of an adjacent piece of land inside the SEZ area.