Sahara To Take Up Biggest Pan India Sale Of Land

MUMBAI, MAY 30: In perhaps the biggest pan-India sale of land, over 4,700 acres held by the Sahara Group across 14 states have been put on the block by HDFC Realty and SBI Capital Markets. The sale is expected to fetch around Rs 6,500 crore.
Sahara claims it has a total land bank of 33,633 acres. Of this, Aamby Valley City near Lonavala accounts for 10,600 acres. About 1,000 acres is spread across towns and cities of Uttar Pradesh (the company is headquartered in Lucknow).


Early this month, the Supreme Court released Sahara chief Subrata Roy and group director Ashok Roy Choudhary on parole for four weeks. Roy has been in Tihar jail since March 2014 after Sebi dragged the group to court. The court said Sahara could sell its properties to raise Rs 5,000 crore as a bank guarantee and another Rs 5,000 crore to get bail.
Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has given HDFC Realty and SBI Capital Markets the mandate to auction 60 properties across the country following a directive from the Supreme Court.
The auctioneers are hopeful of receiving over Rs 6,500 crore from the 60 properties. However, market sources pointed out that large chunks of the land are agricultural and are located in rural areas, which could affect the amount eventually raised.

The beleaguered Sahara group has properties in places like Ujjain and Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Ajmer in Rajasthan, Aligarh, Bahraich, Bareilly, Muzaffarnagar, Lucknow, Noida in UP, Guwahati in Assam, Salem in Tamil Nadu, and Porbander and Baroda in Gujarat.

Although the auctioneers expect to fetch over Rs 6,500 crore from the 60 properties, market sources said it will be tough since large chunks are agricultural land and located in rural areas. “The income tax department has also staked a claim on these properties to recover its dues,” said a source.
In Mumbai, Sahara’s biggest holding is in Versova, spread over 106 acres. Three years ago, the plot was valued at a jaw-dropping Rs 19,300 crore. Then the penny dropped and it was found that it was marshy land filled with mangroves and could not be developed. The plot, with mangroves, mudflats and a creek, falls under the stringent coastal regulation zone (CRZ) I, where no development is permitted.
In 2013, the Sahara group submitted land documents to market regulator Sebi following a SC order directing it to return Rs 20,500 crore to its investors. The Versova plot was one of two land parcels Sahara showed as collateral to settle the case. Following objections from Sebi, Sahara replaced the Versova plot with other land parcels. Last year the city’s new draft development plan marked the no-development zone for residential and commercial purposes. Activists and environmentalists protested against the move to open up the land for development. They said the land was illegally filled and was once full of mangroves.
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