Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley in the latest budget approved various tax exemptions to Gujarat International Finance Tech-City (GIFT City) which is country’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) being established between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. The project received the much-required recognition from the finance minister despite the fact that the clouds of allegations of irregularities in awarding of contracts and consultancies for the project haven’t faded yet.
In 2006 Gujarat government had decided to develop the financial park within the framework of public-private partnership (PPP) model. As a huge investment and technicality was involved in the project international bidding was required for finalization of selection of the partner. But the then Gujarat government signed a MoU in 2007 to establish GIFT City in Vibrant Gujarat Investment Summit without inviting bid.
Acting upon this MoU, a joint venture agreement was signed between Gujarat Urban Development Co. Ltd. (GUDC) representing Govt. of Gujarat and Infrastructure leasing and financial services Ltd. (ILFS) to create GIFT City Company. As per the agreement Govt. of Gujarat and ILFS held 50-50% partnership in the project.
Even though the Gujarat government had not authorized to ILFS to decide the criteria for the selection of the consultant or finalized the process, ILFS appointed Fairwood Consultants Pvt. Ltd. led consortium including Xian Dai and ECADI as concept and architectural designer for the project.
The ILFS did not even bother to verify financial and technical capability of the appointed consultant to handle the project of international repute. It is pertinent to note that as per website of GIFT ECADI, a Chinese firm was shown as concept designer, independent of Fairwood led consortium.
In actual terms these consortium seems to be non-existent and contract was given to Fairwood on false claims of having consortium with ECADI and Xian Dia, the Chinese firm.
Till 2010, Rs. 176,85,00,000 were paid to Fairwood as advance payments and so called works carried out. When 69-year-old Divyabhash Anjaria, former director of GIFT city, filed a PIL raising questions regarding sale of development rights, recognition of income and waste of public money, finally GIFT had to declare that Fairwood have provided insufficient and faulty designs and not advised the GIFT in financial viability of the project. Later GIFT terminated the contracts given to Fairwood.
The Gujarat high court later in February this year sent a notice to the GIFT city company seeking response.