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Ash in land deal row

Actress Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan faces the prospect of a criminal action for her investment in a wind energy generator in a windmill farm in Nandurbar in north Maharashtra.

india Updated: Jun 25, 2009 13:06 IST
HT Correspondent

Actress Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan faces the prospect of a criminal action for her investment in a wind energy generator in a windmill farm in Nandurbar in north Maharashtra.

The police in Nandurbar are verifying a complaint by one Anand Thakare alleging that Aishwarya, Suzlon Energy Ltd, the company that makes wind energy turbines and maintains and operates the turbines on behalf of the investors, and several others had duped him into “selling” his land cheap for a planned 1,000 MW wind energy farm.

Aishwarya has acquired the land in question on long lease and Suzlon has installed on her behalf one turbine which produces around 1 MW of power. The period of the lease could not be verified, but normally it ranges from 60 years to 99 years.

Wind energy projects attract several high net-worth individuals and companies because of the tax benefits it offers - 100 per cent income tax exemption for the first five years and 80 per cent depreciation in the first year.

According to government estimates, the rate of return on investments in wind energy projects is around 27 per cent. An investment of around Rs 4.75 crore is required for 1 MW of wind energy project.

Aishwarya’s name is mentioned in the land records (called 7/12 extract) as a leasee, according to sources. The policy are verifying the documents submitted by the complainant and are likely to take a decision on filing of a first information report on Thursday, the sources added.

Suzlon could not be reached for comments. Aishwarya too could not be reached for her side of the story.

Wind energy farms are normally set up on wasteland that is acquired on long lease from farmers. Companies like Suzlon offer end-to-end services starting from coordinating acquisition of land for a project to maintaining and operating wind farms.