A Kolkata township that remains castles in the air

Pratim Ranjan Bose Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on June 17, 2011 Published on June 17, 2011


Dubbed as the first FDI in real estate in the State, Kolkata West International City Pvt Ltd (KWIC) proposed to build a lavish Rs 6,000-crore satellite township on 390 acres of prime land at Salap on NH-6, approximately 15 km away from Kolkata, in 2005. The idea was to create the infrastructure – complete with 11,000 villas and row houses, condominiums, hospitals, schools and commercial complexes and others – for the elite, as part of the Left Front government's industrial initiatives.

Accordingly, in early 2006, Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) agreed to offer the land on long-term lease to Salim Group of Indonesia and its local partner, the Singapore-based NRI businessman Mr Prasoon Mukherjee-led Universal Success at Rs 95 crore. KMDA previously fixed Rs 95 crore as the floor price to invite bids for a PPP initiative and was through with the land acquisition. To pave way for the FDI, KWIC was also granted sub-leasing rights, which the KMDA officials admit was an exception.

Five years down the line, Kolkata West today is far from reality. Leave alone completion of the five-phase project, KWIC could so far hand over only 169 of the 912 villas – priced between Rs 26 lakh and Rs 1 crore – slated to be built on 82 acres in Phase-I. Another 100 houses are awaiting completion certificate in the absence of an access road.

As per the original plan, Phase-I was scheduled to be completed by 2008-end. Latest company communications to buyers mentions the Phase-I completion in 2012.

Agreement flouted

According to Mr Abhay Upadhyay a buyer in Phase-I and president of Kolkata West Buyers' Welfare Association, as per the agreement most of the buyers have paid at least 80 per cent of the price of their respective properties by 2008.

Company director Mr Prasun Sengupta admits that there is a delay – “not wilful” though – and blames it on delay in obtaining “certain” approvals. For example, “the permissions to commence construction were received only in end-2008,” he told Business Line but did not clarify when the project will be over.

KWIC also maintains that while the company paid the full consideration for entire 390 acres, KMDA was yet to execute lease agreements for “a substantial part” of the land. “We are thus unable to utilise these lands,” he said.

KMDA clarification

Mr Vivek Bharadwaj, CEO, KMDA, however, contradicted KWIC's version. Stating that, according to the agreement, KMDA was scheduled to execute the lease-deeds in five annual instalments beginning 2006, he said: “We have executed lease agreements in favour of KWIC for nearly 80 per cent of the 390 acres, as per schedule. It's on record.” Transfer of the residual land is held up due to the ongoing litigations.

Mr Bharadwaj was particularly critical of KWIC's approach to project implementation. “We have served them several letters seeking clarification on the reasons behind the delay. They gave us a sketchy reply to which we asked for specific reasons. I don't think, we have received any response yet.”

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Published on June 17, 2011
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