There is an Adarsh housing society connection to the Pune-based Raj Group, which is at the centre of allegations of wrongdoing against former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar in the awarding of contracts for irrigation projects in Maharashtra.
Documents HT has accessed show that Shivaji Kale, who owns a flat in the controversial Adarsh society and is a known aide of Pawar, has been a director of 10 companies along with Jagdish Kadam, Pawar’s cousin and one of the directors of the Raj Group that has bagged irrigation contracts worth Rs 803 crore.
In a series of reports, HT had exposed the close links between Pawar and the Raj Group.
The two- member Adarsh inquiry commission had described Kale’s flat allotment as “not proper or correct’’, as he did not meet the income eligibility criteria.
Kale had been on the board of nearly 13 companies and served as a director of 10 of these companies with Kadam. He also served as a director on the board of four companies with Pawar’s wife, Sunetra, until she exited in 2008. Most of these companies were set up between 2001 and 2009.
Kale exited 11 companies in October 2010, just days before the Adarsh scam hit the headlines. He quit nine companies on one day, October 18. As the chairman of the now-defunct Ajit Cooperative Bank, Kale had been charge-sheeted after the bank went bankrupt for giving out bad loans.
The companies on which Kadam and Kale served as directors together include Goofy Textile Park, Sujay Realty, Sap Merchantile, Kalpavrusksha Plantations, SAP Properties Private Limited, Kalpavruksha Proper ties, Kalpavruksha Promoters, Shivraj Agro, Sujay Agro Estates, and Surya Kiran Agro Estates. These companies had interests in realty, agriculture, and textile parks.
Kadam also exited of five of these companies later, mostly in 2014.
In four of these companies - Kalpavruksha Promoters, Shivraj Agro, Sujay Agro Estates, Surya Kiran Agro Estates -- Kadam’s partner and the other director of Raj Group, Ram Nimbalkar, then took over the role of additional director.
Kale, however, denied having any business links with Pawar. “I know Mr Pawar, we come from the same home town of Baramati. I do honorary work still with Vidya Pratishthan [an educational trust run by the Pawars]. I never said I work in his office. I am a government contractor and am into automobile business. I know Kadam too and we have served on some companies together, but I am no longer with those companies,’’ Kale told HT. He added that he had never been associated with the Raj Group.
Activist Anjali Damania had written to the governor, the chief minister and the chief justice of the Bombay high court seeking a probe into the entire web of these companies, including assets of each of the directors including Kale.
“There needs to be a probe into the companies and their directors. The investigation agencies need to find out whether these companies are shell companies or used to buy land,” said Damania.
After Damania’s representation, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had said the ongoing probe by the Anti-Corruption Bureau would look into the matter.