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If you are far-sighted and have a vision, you will definitely become successful: BK Agrawal

21-04-2017-Nirbhay Sancheti Wedding-BK Agrawal-Amar Ashok Jajoo
BK Agrawal (Photo by: Amar Ashok Jajoo)

Not many can boast of being a successful businessman with a passion. The examples are rare and Nagpur’s Brij Kishore Agrawal surely makes the list. A chartered accountant by profession, Agrawal chose to build his own spectacular dream and that dream paved way for the outstanding ? Suraburdi Meadows, one of Nagpur’s premier hospitality venues, located 15 kms away from the city. Popularly known as BK Agrawal or Birju Agrawal, he has carved a niche for himself and is a name to reckon with in Nagpur. In a relaxed chat with Nation Next, BK Agrawal speaks about the lush green leisure destination – Suraburdi Meadows and his love for forestry.

You hail from a small town, Narnaul, in Haryana. Tell us something about your family?

My great grandfather migrated from Narnaul 125 years back. He settled down in Kamptee at a military establishment. My grandfather then shifted to Nagpur. We still have our ancestral house in Itwari.

Being a rank holder (5th merit in Masters in Commerce from Nagpur University and a Chartered Accountant with an AIR 42), are you comfortable being recognised as the owner of Suraburdi Meadows If not, was switching over easy and do you miss practicing CA?

There is a time gap in all these events and achievements. I pursued chartered accountancy and law at the same time. I also worked in my family business simultaneously while I was pursuing my education. I started practicing chartered accountancy in 1976. After eight to ten years of practice, I started investing in agriculture. I bought my first land somewhere around 1982-83. In business, what appreciates is land. Knowing that, I started investing in properties. Suraburdi is my costliest property so far. In 2000, I bought it for 1 lac rupees an acre, which is now a whopping 25 lac rupees an acre! I have always been very passionate about agriculture and forestry, so whichever land I would buy, I would do forestry on it. I own 400 acres of tea plantings at Chandrapur and Kalmeshwar. I had invested in another land for amusement park, but I never went ahead with the project because Fun and Food Village was being introduced soon. I also realised that amusement industry is gradually dying. So, I dropped the idea and started my nursery. In fact, I had received Krazy Castles contract too, but I chose to leave it for the same reasons. Also, it being a government land, I didn’t invest in it.

There’s a CA firm – Agrawal Challani and Co. – registered in your name. How do you divide time between your practice and business

My timetable is divided into three sections: morning, post lunch and evening. I practice as a CA in the morning, post lunch I go to Suraburdi and later in the day, I go to Jayaswal Neco Industries, where I’m the one of the directors for more than 30 years now.

How do you describe the concept of Suraburdi Meadows How was introducing a new concept like Suraburdi in Nagpur like? What do you think went in your favour?

Suraburdi primarily is a wedding destination but in the long run, we plan to develop it in a township. Suraburdi initially was just hillocks and a water body. Also, nothing was leveled there, so I took it as a challenge. Unlike the usual trend, I’m focusing on backward development to develop my township. Usually, businessmen offer a township after the location is developed but we are doing exactly the opposite. In my entire life, I have only paid once for an advertisement for Suraburdi in Nagpur’s English daily but I didn’t find it helpful. Since then, I haven’t done any advertisement for Suraburdi. I feel my constant hard work over the years went in my favour.

Suraburdi is one of the most reputed wedding and event destinations in the city. Considering that it’s a far off location as per Nagpur standards, did you ever expect the kind of overwhelming response it has been getting over the years

We have developed Suraburdi as a resort and not as a hotel. It may not be a destination wedding location at a national level but it definitely enjoys good attention from Central India. Nagpur’s hot weather makes it difficult for people to enjoy open ground events, so we don’t have many bookings for summers. While summer is a problem, we are usually booked for two or three consecutive winters.

Prominent celebrities like Salman Khan, Dia Mirza, etc. have graced Suraburdi Meadows in the past. But one name you can boast about is Rahul Gandhi who held a Congress Party meet there. Do you feel this took Suraburdis standards to an all-new level?

I’m not after any big name. Rahul Gandhi had come here for the facilities, which we have been giving. He wasn’t here for Suraburdi. The venue was chosen because they wanted a bigger area for the conference, which wasn’t available anywhere else in the city.

Some prominent event venues like Eden Greenz, Lamba Celebrations, Grand Rani Kothi, etc. have cropped up across the city. Are you facing a stiff competition from them? Do you think, you being the first one to come up with this concept in the city, have an edge over the others, considering Suraburdis popularity and the recognition it has earned so far?

We don’t face any competition from other destinations in the city because all the venues cater to different sections of the society; be it catering or wedding. Catering is an important aspect, which even starts from 25 rupees a plate and can go up to 10,000 rupees a plate. Likewise there are society halls, basic lawns in our colonies and then there’s Suraburdi. We definitely have an edge over others. Today, the first choice of people for a wedding in Nagpur is Suraburdi, but gradually Hotel Radisson Blu is also gaining momentum.

Whats more challenging ? making your startup a success or being able to continue to keep it successful?

Success comes later. Starting up a business is way more challenging because the establishment is a rigorous task. If you are futuristic and have a vision, you would definitely become successful. If you plan your goals at the speed with which the city is growing, you would never be unsuccessful. If the city is growing at its own pace, but you want to run, your venture would be a failure. Ground realities have to be kept in mind always.

 You are a director on the board of Jayaswal Neco Industries Ltd. A lot has been said about Basant Lal Shaw and Manoj Jayaswals relationship. What do you have to say on the so-called strained relationship between the father and the son?

Manoj wanted to go ahead of time; also he had his own speed, which didn’t match with that of his brothers and his fathers. Hence he parted ways.

 It is perceived that people have parked a lot of black money in the land banks in and around Nagpur. What do you have to say about it?

It’s not just prevalent in Nagpur. It is everywhere.

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Governance

Dharavi redevelopment to have dedicated areas for manufacturing: Devendra Fadnavis

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Nation Next Newsroom | Mumbai

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that Dharavi redevelopment will have dedicated areas for manufacturing…

Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said that Dharavi is a great manufacturing cluster, has been kept in mind while planning its redevelopment.

Devendra Fadnavis

The Mah Deputy CM says that Dharavi is a great manufacturing cluster, has been kept in mind while planning its redevelopment.

As Dharavi redevelopment has been announced, doubts were raised on whether this locally evolved entrepreneurial hub will retain its spirit.  In a chat on Sansad TV with Sanjeev Sanyal, Member, PM’s Economic Advisory Council and a writer, on an Economic Sutra episode telecast on Nov 6, the Deputy Chief Minister had made it very clear how he foresees the future of Dharavi and Mumbai.

Saying that his government worked on clearing all the bottlenecks, he adds, “We understood that unless we have a place to rehabilitate people, which is nearby Dharavi, this project will not take off. We found out that there is around 42 acres of land which belongs to the Railways. We approached the Central Government and told them that we’ll free up your land. We’ll buy your land and we’ll give you a share in the profit and we entered into a definitive agreement and now they have handed it over to us.”

“The Dharavi Redevelopment project will be the most unique project ever done. In fact, this redevelopment was visualized by none other than Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 but nothing happened – until 2014 when Modiji came and we started governing Maharashtra. The redevelopment will be no less beautiful than BKC. Dharavi is just not a slum but it’s also a great manufacturing cluster, so what we did was that while planning this scheme we have created areas for this entire manufacturing industry along with planning for the rehabilitation of the people. Right now, this entire manufacturing sector is informal, but after this and over time they will come into the formal sector.”

Watch the full interaction here: https://youtu.be/FNeTrm0v0dw

Also, with Mumbai undergoing so many infrastructural changes, questions have been raised about retaining the quintessential character of “aamchi Mumbai,” which apart from being the financial capital of India is undoubtedly one of the most vibrant cities.

Speaking on the land issues, Fadnavis says, “The usable space in Mumbai is very little. It has length, but has limitations on the breadth so taking into consideration all these problems we wanted to design a very robust system for Mumbai for commuters and for vehicles. That’s why the all the new Coastal Road, which will decongest the western side of Mumbai. It will be a ring road type structure along the coast and this Western Expressway carries 60 percent of the Mumbai traffic right, so all that traffic will be mostly accommodated here.”

Commuting in Mumbai is a killer and every day Mumbaikars spend a lot of time on travel. Saying that he wants to reduce travel within Mumbai from anywhere to anywhere to an hour, Fadnavis explains, “Our Metro three is a very unique 40 kilometers of underground Network, which will be the lifeline of Mumbai. It is estimated to carry around 1.7 million passengers per day! All this work will be finished in two or three years and I want that from any place to any place in Mumbai one should reach within less than one hour – that is the planning. We are also trying to integrate the transportation system. Right now, our Suburban Railway is the lifeline of Mumbai. This Suburban Railway carries around 9 million passengers. The new Metro Network which we are creating will be carrying around 7 million or 8 million passengers, almost doubling the current number.”

Adding to this, the Deputy CM says that the 22 kilometers of Sea Bridge that will connect us to the hinterland, “so we have Mumbai, we have new Mumbai and that will be the third Mumbai that will be a land mass which will be bigger than Mumbai with new Mumbai airport. I think the future growth of Mumbai is on that side!”

Also read: Pritish Nandy’s ‘spirit of Dharavi’ tweet sparks off poverty porn debate

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Governance

Pritish Nandy’s ‘spirit of Dharavi’ tweet sparks off poverty porn debate

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Nation Next Newsroom | Mumbai

Dharavi comments of former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy on Friday, kicked off a storm…

Dharavi comments of former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy on Friday, kicked off a storm.

Dharavi

Is squalor for cameras, money more important than dignified living for the residents…  

Former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy’s Dharavi comments kicked off a storm when he said on Twitter that Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slum, with an estimated population of 1 million, ‘is not actually a slum but a tribute to the great entrepreneurial spirit of the weakest and smallest person fighting for his or her livelihood in Mumbai. It is also a model in collective coexistence in one of the toughest cities in the world, where nothing else matters. Not caste. Not faith. Not where you come from. But trust and togetherness.’

While this may be true, what is equally true is the squalor and subhuman conditions that reign supreme in this slum. Netizens felt that Nandy, by romanticizing poverty in this manner, was only feeding poverty porn and tourism. Nandy clarified that he was seeking to keep the spirit of Dharavi alive by “researching the architectural grammar, the cultural history that builds integrated and interdependent societies like Dharavi that have survived and flourished over decades and make that the base for the new redevelopment plans. Not just look at the future but also build in the past.”

The Maharashtra Government had on November 29, opened the financial bids for Dharavi redevelopment project.  While 3 companies Adani Realty, DLF and Naman Group had submitted bids, the Adani Group clinched the project with a INR 5,069-crore bid. The timeline for the entire redevelopment of Asia’s largest slum, with an estimated population of 1 million, might take close to 17 years, the rehabilitation of slum dwellers should be complete in seven years. 

Also read: Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea on Dec 6; HC says plea should be heard on priority due to his ill health

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Crime

Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea on Dec 6; HC says plea should be heard on priority due to his ill health

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Radhika Dhawad | Mumbai
The Bombay High Court said ex-minister Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea should be heard on priority basis due to the senior leader’s health issues.

Anil Deshmukh

The Bombay High Court said, as per prima facie, 74-year-old former Home Minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea should be heard on priority basis due to the senior leader’s health issues. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the CBI, said that when Deshmukh’s bail plea was moved on medical grounds, then a fresh medical report needed to be called for. 

Singh said, “There is a compilation that has been given now. There are medical papers attached. We need to go through it. Even though this is not a bail application on merit of the case, it is still being circulated under medical issues. He is getting medical treatment as required. Moreover, medical issues are not static. We need a check on what his condition is right now.”

Deshmukh’s advocate Vikram Chaudhari said the senior NCP leader was being treated but has been suffering from several ailments that require constant treatment and care. Chaudhary said, ”He needs to be released. He is a chronic patient.”

Justice MS Karnik said that the court would hear the bail plea on merits. He said, “I am satisfied that we can proceed with the hearing on merits and give it priority. This is my prima facie opinion that priority should be given. One of the medical ailments (that Deshmukh is suffering from) is degenerative.” Deshmukh’s bail plea would now be heard on December 6.

The bench asked Singh whether he was ready to argue on the merits of the case immediately, to which Singh said he would require a week while Chaudhari said that he was ready to argue. However, Justice Karnik said, “We need to give them a fair opportunity.”

Also read: 10 lakh spectators across 50 km; PM Modi makes history with road show for BJP in Ahmedabad

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