A group of transporters from Rajasthan has been camping at a hotel in Ballard Estate for over a week, as part of a two-year struggle with industrialist Braj Binani to recover alleged dues amounting to over Rs 100 crore.
The transporters have been working with Binani Cements Ltd (BCL) — an arm of Binani Industries Limited (BIL) that merged with Ultratech Cement in October 2018 — for several years. In their complaint to police, the transporters alleged that in 2016, they entered into agreements with logistics firm Dhaneshwar Solutions, an arm of BIL, to supply cement from a manufacturing plant in Bhilwara, Rajasthan, to several parts of the country.
However, those agreements lasted less than a year and were terminated in 2017, when the firm’s cement arm filed for insolvency.
“The company assured us it would pay us from the proceeds of the insolvency resolution process and issued four cheques to each of us last year. But when we cashed in those cheques, the banks did not complete the payments, citing insufficient funds,” said Surendra Singh of Bhagwati Logistics, who is allegedly owed Rs 1.98 crore.
This prompted several transporters to file cheque bounce cases in Rajasthan courts. A group of 42 transporters came to Mumbai earlier this month to try and resolve the situation. With their income stalled for two years, mounting debts have forced most of them to sell off their businesses.
Lokesh Jain, who runs P G Transport in Kota, said he is now left with two-thirds of his fleet of 80 trucks. “Banks and creditors from whom we have taken loans have been calling me every day. I don’t know what to say if I answer their phone calls. We have been stuck here in Mumbai for more than 10 days,” said Jain, who is allegedly owed Rs 7.5 crore by BCL.
Stoppage of work has brought most transporters to the brink of bankruptcy, Surendra Singh said.
The group of 42 is currently down to 23 men, as rising costs of staying in the city forced many to return home. He claimed BCL executives were stalling a resolution of the situation.
“We have advised them that they need to file a complaint with police in Rajasthan. The matter is also sub-judice,” said Sanjay Kamble, senior inspector, MRA Marg police station.
An official at MRA Marg police station said the transporters’ complaint was received on March 13 and an investigation into their allegations is underway.
The BCL did not respond to multiple attempts seeking a response on the matter.