India Balking At $120 Mln Going To US, Does Not Clear Vaccine Tycoon Poonawala’s Home Sale
MUMBAI, (IANS) – Billionaire vaccine tycoon Cyrus Poonawala is keen to move into his palatial Mumbai home but has been stuck in bureaucratic hassles for the past eight years. A miffed Poonawala told a foreign publication that “the government of India is not providing any rationale for holding it up”, and suspects that it doesn’t want the sale to go through as it would mean transferring $120 million to the US.
As per certain media reports, Poonawala, 81, the Chairman of Serum Institute of India Ltd had bought the property from the US Government, which was running its Mumbai Consulate there till 2011.
The US government had purchased it in 1957 on a 999-year lease from the last ruler of Wankaner, Maharana Raj Shri Pratapsinhji Saheb of the Jhala Dynasty.
Wankaner was a princely state, located in modern-day Gujarat, near Morbi, and the last Maharana built his luxurious royal Mumbai home in 1933.
The sprawling property spread over two acres on the Arabian Sea shore with a built-up area of around 50,000 sq. feet, known as Wankaner House, was renamed ‘Lincoln House’, and the US Consulate functioned there till November 2011.
A few years after the Mumbai mission moved to bigger premises in the Bandra Kurla Complex, the US government and Poonawala struck a deal of around Rs 750 crore for the property in the posh Breach Candy area of south Mumbai.
Later, it transpired that the ownership of the land was unclear with both the Maharashtra government and the Ministry of Defense staking claim, and the deal was kept on hold, and the Indian and US governments are attempting to iron out the differences.
Although officials are not ready to comment, the green signal is probably stuck owing to a technicality pertaining to the notice of the sale within a specified timeframe on the transfer of the lease rights.
Until the deal is cleared – probably by the PMO – Poonawala will continue to live in his Pune home.