Hiranandani vs Hiranandani Begins of war

Crime Branch report suspects Niranjan Hiranandani's daughter is trying to sabotage her brother's power project in Pune district
In Left to Right Priya and Darsan
A bitter feud between construction magnate Niranjan Hiranandani's two children son Darshan and daughter Priya - is splitting the family asunder.

A confidential inquiry carried out by the Mumbai Crime Branch has revealed that London-based Priya could be fomenting trouble for Darshan's ambitious 2500 MW power project in Maval in Pune district.

The inquiry, which involved questioning several people in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune, was launched on Hiranandani's request to the home department after he noticed Rs 5 lakh-a-day lawyers being hired for cases filed by poor villagers and NGOs against the project.

Joint Commissioner (crime) Himanshu Roy confirmed that the inquiry is in progess. Though the report identifies Priya, who is married to businessman Cyrus Vandrevale, only as a suspect, it does not mention any other name. Sources said the report will reach the Home Ministry next week.

Speaking to Mumbai Mirror late Friday evening, Hiranandani admitted there are differences between Darshan and Priya, but added that he had not yet seen the report. “I don't have anything more to say. It's pretty embarrassing,” he said.

According to sources, Darshan and Priya have had problems over the division of the substantial family wealth.

The Hiranandanis, who have made a name in construction, hospitality and health care, ventured into power generation just last year through a new entity - Hindustan Electricity Generation Company (HEGC).

The plan was to set up a gas-based plant at Navlakh Umbre village in Maval taluka. While the company acquired around 200 acres of land, the project did not move an inch after that. And the main hurdle impeding its progress was court cases filed by villagers opposed to the land acquisition and NGOs alleging irregularities.

HEGC is facing litigation in Pune courts, the Bombay High Court and even the Supreme Court.

At a press conference earlier this year in Pune, Hiranandani had spoken about his suspicions that the court cases were being backed by vested interests.

A month back, he approached the home ministry and requested a probe to identify people funding and supporting cases filed against HEGC. His gut feeling was that a rival corporate group was behind the flurry of litigations.

Earlier last month, the inquiry was assigned to the Mumbai Crime Branch. The investigators began by questioning residents opposed to the project and NGOs supporting them. They soon zeroed in on a public relations firm in Delhi that was handling most of the cases against HEGC.

"This PR firm had hired lawyers from Delhi, some of whom charged Rs 5 lakh-a-day to fight cases in a magistrate's court in Maval. It was an extravagant affair," said a Crime Branch officer.

It was after intensive questioning of PR executives, lawyers and some other people associated with the cases that Priya's name emerged.

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