Peninsula + Delta=Land Grab + Casinos
Besides K Raheja Corporation the other company in the forefront of the SEZ Land Scam has been the Peninsula Land Limited (PLL) – a part of the Ashok Piramal Group under guises of different companies. GoaChronicle.com investigates further into the Peninsula’s land activities, its relationship with Delta Corp – a company known for its casino operations in Goa who is also currently under cloud for operating its off-shore ‘Casino Royale’ without appropriate government permissions…
Even the matter of SEZ Land Allotment has been scrapped by the High Court Order dated 26th November 2010.
As on January 5, 2011 this is what the website www.peninsula.co.in says about its activities, “Peninsula Land Limited (PLL), the real estate arm of the brand Peninsula, is one of the first real estate companies listed on the stock exchange. All the real estate developments of Peninsula are carried under this flagship company.
Diversifying further its domain, Peninsula is developing 3 Special Economic Zones in Goa. We have been allotted two plots of land spread over 170 acres for the development of Biotechnology SEZs and another 30 acres for the development of Gems & Jewelry SEZ. These plots have been allotted to us by the Government of Goa for the development of infrastructure at different locations in Goa.”
Peninsula Pharma Research Centre Pvt Ltd was allotted 20.36 hectares land at Sancoale. Since this was not an Industrial Estate, the GIDC used an approved formula for calculating the premium. Using the premium rates, the price for the property in Sancoale worked out to Rs 934.20 per sqmt. However when executing the lease deeds in March/April 2006 the GIDC charged Peninsula Pharma Research Centre Pvt Ltd a premium of Rs 270 per sqmts only. The lack of infrastructure and ‘sloppy nature’ of the land in case of Peninsula were cited as reasons for charging lower premiums.
The ‘Mody-Piramal’ Connection
Here are few inputs from the Delta Corp official website:
Delta Corp is promoted by Mr. Jaydev Mody, an eminent and successful Indian entrepreneur and erstwhile Managing Director of Peninsula Land Limited (PLL) (promoted by the Ashok Piramal Group).
In addition, Mr. Mody has also been instrumental in setting up the Ashok Piramal group’s real estate and retail business comprising of PLL and Pyramid Retail Limited (PRL) and is on the board of PLL and PRL.
Mody while being the promoter of Delta Corp, also serves as a director on the PLL and PRL. In the SEZ Land Allotment application for Peninsula Pharma Research Centre Pvt Ltd, Inox Mercantile Pvt Ltd and Planetview Mercantile Pvt Ltd in the promoters/directors section Jaydev Mody and Rajiv Piramal are listed as promoters/directors of the company. In fact Planetview Mercantile Pvt Ltd was not even a registered company during the time of the allotment as per regulations stipulated by GIDC. Just till date Rajiv Piramal is also the Director on the board of Delta Corp. Zia Mody, Promoter of Delta Corp (wife of Jaydev Mody) is the Co-founder of AZB partners, one of the legal firms for the reliance industries.
The ‘Delta Corp’ Connection
Delta Corp along with its subsidiaries currently operates in the following lines of business: Entertainment and gaming business, Real Estate business, Real estate consultancy services, Real estate development in Kenya and Hospitality business.
The Company owns and operates 3 offshore live gaming casinos in Goa on River Mandovi – Casino Royale, Caravela and King’s Casino. Delta Corp owns 3 out of the 6 offshore live gaming casino licenses issued by the Government of Goa. Offering a variety of international games like Baccarat, Poker, Roulette, Black Jack, etc., these casinos have become extremely popular amongst the gaming population in India. The Company through its subsidiary is also operating an onshore casino, Casino Royale Riviera in the hotel “Riviera De Goa Resort” under a casino management agreement. Riviera De Goa is a 5-star property located at Arpora in North Goa offering 98 rooms, 6 suites and apartments for guests.
Management at Delta Corp believes that hospitality business in India has a long term growth prospect. In order to tap the opportunity available in the hospitality sector, Delta Corp has formed a joint venture with Peninsula Land limited i.e. PLL Delta Hotel Limited (PLLDHL). Going forward, PLLDHL intends to develop 3/4 star 100 bed hotels in various urban locations in India primarily in Southern and Western India.
In the annual report of Delta Corp 2009-10, the chairman Jaydev Mody stated that in the past 12 months the company has earned Rs 6,571 lakhs (Rs 65.71 crores) through the casino business.
Delta Corp also own 34.9 per cent equity share capital in the Advani Hotels & Resorts (India) Limited – thereby further enhancing their foray into the hospitality business with the Ramada Caravela Beach Resort. Subsequently, the company is also planning to launch the first floating hotel in Goa tentatively called the ‘Royale Floatel’ a 22 room boutique hotel which is supposed to be stationed on the Mandovi River as well.
Interestingly though, one of the key focus areas has been in Nairobi, Kenya in which they have got a Joint Venture real estate initiative with the Reliance Industries Limited.
The ‘Casino Royale’ Conundrum
The Casino Royale, operated by Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment Ltd – a subsidiary of the Delta Corp is conducting operations in the River Mandovi without trading license even as the State Government has made no efforts whatsoever to stop the operation despite a communication from the Director General Shipping.
Officials, however, preferred to pass the buck to other departments.
The DG Shipping letter signed by Joint Director G L Singh had asked the company for a status report on their trading license. “This office may please be intimated about the present status of the vessel at the earliest”, Singh said in the letter. Further, the letter says, “It may be stated if the vessel is trading without valid license, in that case action will be taken as per the Merchant Shipping Act 1958 which may please be noted”.
Trading license is mandatory for obtaining casino license from the State Home Department.
State Ports Minister Nilkant Halankar said action would be taken against Casino Royale as it has been operating without mandatory license. “We have already written to Home ministry to take action against the off shore casinos, which are not having the licenses,” he said, adding that the off shore casinos have been given three month’s time to present their documents. The minister said that the action will be taken against them by February this year.
According to both the Annual Report of Delta Corp and Investor presentation, it is clearly evident that Goa has been identified as a state with a growing potential in the casino, hospitality and real estate business. In different forms whether in the SEZ Land allotment or operating casinos without license; the Peninsula and Delta Corp with its internal links seem to have exploited legal loopholes in connivances with key political support to go ahead with their plans in Goa.