Rs 720-crore defaulter behind houses to poor in CM’s segment

  • Kamaldeep Singh Brar, Hindustan Times, Muktsar
  • Updated: May 23, 2014 10:39 IST

Balbir Singh Uppal may be a defaulter in the Rs 5,600-crore National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL) scam, but he has helped Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to earn a good reputation among the Dalits of Dhabwali Malko village in his constituency Lambi by constructing 110 pucca houses under the scheme to give 5-marla plots to the communities.

In a letter dated March 29, 2014, NSEL managing director Saji Cherian has written to CM Badal, seeking the state’s intervention in recovery of Rs 1,524 crore from five companies — three subsidiary firms of Uppal’s Laxmi Overseas Industries Limited (LOIL), and ARK Imports and White Water Foods.

It says these entities, in connivance with some of the NSEL officials, sold goods that were supposed to be in their warehouse.

However, when the exchange closed in July 2013, it was found that they had no goods. Called upon to settle, they are not paying the money.

The biggest defaulter is Punjab’s rice king Uppal, who owes Rs 720.3 crore to the investors, while Kailash Aggarwal of Ludhiana based ARK owes Rs 719.37 crore and Panchkula resident Kamal Dewan of White Water Foods owes Rs 84.82 crore.

Uppal had recently shared the stage of the Shiromani Akali Dal at an election rally with the CM in his hometown Khamano.

The state government has taken no initiative against defaulters, contrary to expectations of the NSEL.

It must be mentioned thus, that Uppal played a kind donor and put in at least Rs 3 crore in the CM’s home constituency during the 2007-12 regime.

As part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, Uppal’s Lakshmi Energy and Foods (LEAF) Limited constructed 110 houses for Dalits on the land provided under the Five Marla Plot Scheme by the village panchyat, a fact confirmed by district development and panchyat officer (DDPO) Naval Kumar.

But hardly anyone in Dhabwali Malko knows the fact that Uppal invested the money in their village; and the credit goes to Badal. Even the village sarpanch, Balwinder Singh, said he only knew that the Punjab CM had constructed these houses.

When asked about LEAF and Uppal, he said he knew nothing. Not only Uppal, but other industrial houses have also helped the Punjab CM a great extent to deal with the long list of beneficiaries in his constituency demanding houses.

The Guru Gobind Singh HMEL-HPCL oil refinery has constructed 144 homes for the poor in Mandi Killianwali village.

Ambuja Cement Foundation, running plants in Bathinda and Rupnagar, constructed 129 houses in Gaggar.

GVK Group, constructing a 540MW thermal power project near Goindwal Sahib village in Tarn Taran, has constructed 100 homes in Manikhera.

Village Khudian Gulab Singh in the CM’s constituency also attracted a few industrial houses who constructed 148 homes for the poor.

“Beneficiaries in all these public-private partnership projects are selected on the basis of the Five Marla Plot Scheme,” said DDPO Naval Kumar.

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