Want to invest in a luxury resort on a serene mountain, with a splendid view of the towering Himalayas from your bedroom, and a 10 per cent return on your investment? Well, put the money into any such purchase at your own risk.
More than 100 investors did this and reportedly ended up losing crores of rupees in infrastructure projects that never materialised.
The Crime Branch has arrested G.S. Rana, managing director of South Extension-based Central Himalayan Land Development Company Limited, on the charges of masterminding the fraud. “We are interrogating him,” said S.B.K. Singh, Additional Commissioner of Police (Economic Offences Wing).
Rana was arrested from the Indira Gandhi International airport early on Monday while on way to Bali. His counsel Ajay Sharma said Rana is innocent. “Most of his investors are satisfied with the projects. The allegations are baseless,” said Sharma. A group of investors, however, feel otherwise.
The company published newspaper advertisements inviting people to invest money in infrastructure projects in Uttaranchal, including Nainital and Almorah. A few people were offered individual villas on mountain ranges in Nainital.
“It was supposed to be a commercial resort right near the foot of the Himalayan range. It was to have a spa facility, state-of-the-art gymnasium, a swimming pool and sprawling lawns,” said Anju Sharma, who invested more than Rs.12 lakh for a villa.
Sharma said the company had also promised a 10 per cent return on the investment made and a free one-month stay at the resort every year. She said that none of the promises were fulfilled.
“The company allotted me a totally different plot, kilometres away from the one I paid for. It turned out that the piece of land where the
resort was supposed to come up was not registered and the company did not even have clearances from the lake and forest departments,” said Sharma.
Not just that. Investors also claim that the company did not even keep its promise of assured returns. Another investor put in more than Rs.14 lakh for the biggest plot in the Nainital project. He said he got the piece of land on his name but nothing more than that.
“What would I do with an empty plot located in a hardly-inhabited place. Even basic amenities like roads, electricity and water are not available there. To add to the misery, the company has also declined the return on my investment. They said that I could take back the principal amount without the interest,” he said.