In its last meeting, on March 13, 2018, to discuss ways to better manage properties seized, frozen or confiscated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), including those belonging to fugitive businessmen Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, the government has proposed to mandate the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), to do the job of maintaining, renting and auctioning of such properties. The meeting was chaired by finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia, officials of the Ministry of Finance, Enforcement Directorate chief Karnal Singh and NBCC chairman-cum-managing director Anoop Kumar Mittal.
The proposal to mandate NBCC to do the job, was at the behest of the ED and mooted by the Finance Ministry about six months ago. It was felt that lack of proper maintenance, led to decay of the properties and the agency had to continuously spend on their upkeep, officials explained. As of now, the ED manages the properties confiscated by it but does not have experience in how to do so and there is no provision under the PMLA for rental, to earn revenue, officials said.
The proposal is to manage the seized land, which can often measure several thousand acres, as well as numerous factories, flats, buildings and shops taken over by the ED, they added. NBCC, a public sector undertaking, has a specialised subsidiary to handle tasks for these kind of tasks from the government and from central PSUs. It is the sole land authorised agency for central undertakings.
The latest discussions could pave the way for the NBCC to get similar contracts from intelligence and police establishments, the sources said. The government may consider amending necessary laws, to ensure better upkeep of confiscated properties, they said. “We get a lot of contracts from various ministries such as home, finance and defence for executing projects of national importance but as a matter of policy, do not comment on any discussions,” said an NBCC spokesperson.