The Gujarat government has cancelled all permits and the 30-year concession awarded to Sterling Port to develop the Dahej port to become an all-weather, direct-berthing port.
In a directive issued to the Gujarat Maritime board, Chief Ministry Vijay Rupani has called for immediate steps to recover the dues owed by Sterling Port and cancelled all permit to the company to develop the port.
Sterling Port Ltd is promoted by Nitin Sandesara of the Vadodara-based Sandesara Group. While Nitin Sandesara is believed to have escaped from India after it came to light that the company had major debts from financial institutions, the company continued to be the contractors for developing the port.
Lenders of Sterling Ports Ltd, which also ran into the bad books of its creditors, include Srei Infrastructure Finance, Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank.
The lenders had invited expressions of interest from other investors into the Dahej port project in 2017 in order to plan recovery of their debt. Sterling Port promoters hold close to 74 per cent equity in the port project, while the remaining stake is held by Sterling Biotech Ltd, the group’s publicly listed flagship company.
According to a government release on Monday, Nitin Sandesara promoted Sterling Biotech had proposed its intention to execute the port project in 2008 within four years. In October 2017, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered a case against Sterling Biotech Ltd for defaulting on loans worth over Rs 5,383 crore from a consortium led by Andhra Bank which had turned into non-performing assets.