HIMGIRI Infrastructure Development Limited, the company incorporated in 2000 by senior BJP leaders in Jammu which was used to buy land next to the Army ammunition depot in Nagrota, owes Rs 29.31 crore to Jammu and Kashmir Bank. And its account was declared a non-performing asset (NPA) in December last year, records investigated by The Indian Express show.
Days later, on January 5 this year, present Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta and Assembly Speaker Nirmal Singh (he was Deputy CM then), his wife Mamta Singh and BJP Lok Sabha member Jugal Kishore, along with nearly 20 shareholders, promoters, directors and guarantors, received a notice from the bank under Section 13(2) of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets & Enforcement of Security Interest Act (SARFAESI), 2002.
As The Indian Express first reported on Friday, Singh’s wife and Gupta also owned land next to the Army depot. Singh received a strong letter from the Corps Commander of the Army’s 16 Corps, Lt General Saranjeet Singh, telling him to halt construction on the plot since it was illegal and a security risk to the ammunition depot and to the personnel who lived there.
The bank’s Assistant Vice-President Joginder Pal Sharma, who is shown to have served the notice, declined to comment.
According to the notice, a term loan of Rs 18.50 crore along with a cash credit facility of Rs 56.83 lakh was sanctioned to Himgiri by the bank’s Link Road, Jammu, branch in 2012, for part financing of a power project to be set up in Himachal’s Chamba district. Nirmal Singh was Power Minister and Deputy Chief Minister since 2015 till he was made Speaker in a reshuffle last month.
Himgiri, with an authorised share capital of Rs 50 lakh and paid-up capital of an equal amount, was incorporated as a private company in September 2000. It got a 3 MW hydel power project in Chamba district in 2001 when Prem Kumar Dhumal was the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh.
Records show that in 2015, the bank sanctioned an additional term loan of Rs 6.60 crore to meet an estimated cost run and another loan of Rs 4 crore in 2016.
When contacted, Nirmal Singh admitted having received the notice from the bank. “The loan has to be repaid and I have only acted as mortgagor/guarantor for the company in which my wife was a director. She resigned as director in June 2017, but she continues to be a shareholder in the company,” he said.
Kavinder Gupta, when contacted, said that he had resigned as director of the company in 2014 after winning the Assembly elections from Gandhi Nagar constituency. He admitted having received the notice and said “we are looking for a partner for finances so as to complete the remaining work” on the power project. “It (losses) can happen with anybody… What is so objectionable?… We have not done any fraud with the government,” he said.
Among others who have got a notice from the bank are Jyoti Parkash, Executive Director of Himgiri who has been an RSS pracharak in Bhaderwah, and Chairman Surinder Mohan Gupta, who is associated with the Dr Hedgewar Smarak Samiti.
The bank’s notice has asked them “to clear the entire liability of Rs 29,31,13,578 together with costs, penal interest and other charges within 60 days from the date of notice”. In case of failure, it warns them, the bank may take possession or management of their secured assets, including the right to transfer them by way of lease, assignment or sale for realising the secured assets.
The company mortgaged with the bank all its moveable (plant and machinery) as well as immoveable property, measuring 3.5338 hectares, at Protha, Sara and Rajindu areas of Chamba. Several of its directors have also mortgaged their landholdings.
Kavinder Gupta mortaged his 10 marlas (1 marla is 272 sq feet) in Udhampur’s Omara area and Nirmal Singh mortgaged 3 kanals (1 kanal is 20 marlas) and 14-marla land at Sunjwan, Jammu. Himgiri Chairman Surinder Mohan Gupta and Director Satish Sethi mortgaged a hall on second floor in the commercial K C Plaza Complex, Vir Marg, in Jammu, together with all constructions.
It was in 2014 that Himgiri went on to buy land next to the Nagrota Army ammunition depot.
“We got the land registered in our name in 2014,” said Jyoti Parkash. “The land was purchased by the company at the rate of Rs 12,500-Rs 15,000 per marla with an idea to invest money in property as our power project had already been delayed,” he said.
Within a year of this purchase, when the BJP formed a coalition government with Peoples Democratic Party in J&K, the state government identified land for IIT, IIM and a zoo next door.