Authorities here on Friday carried out a controlled blast to raze the luxurious beach bungalow of absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi, one of the prime accused in the Punjab National Bank scam, official sources said.
Over 100 dynamite sticks were strategically placed within and outside the bungalow near Kihim beach, and the blast took place at 11.15 a.m. amidst tight security, said an eyewitness from the site.
Few days ago, detonators were fixed at various points on the bungalow – located around 110 km from Mumbai – to carry out the ‘implosion’ and bring it down in a single-shot.
With the complete structure razed to the ground, labourers will now start the work of removing the debris from the venue over the next couple of weeks.
On January 25, the Collectorate had initiated the demolition process using traditional methods of bulldozers, excavators and other such manually-operated equipment, but it proved to be a slow and tedious process.
Attached by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in December 2018, the bungalow was stripped off all its valuables, art works, paintings and other expensive items. All glass structures were removed to enable the controlled blasting.
Modi, along with his uncle Mehul Choksi and others, are the prime accused and fugitives in the Rs 14,000-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud admitted in February 2018.
Though the Alibag bungalow was not directly linked with the PNB scam, it was attached by the ED along with his known assets in Maharashtra, Gujarat and other places in an effort to recover a part of the dues from Modi.
Built in 2009-2010, on a 70,000 square feet plot, the 33,000 square feet bungalow with several bedrooms is accessible through a long driveway, protected by high metal fencing and a huge security gate, and was noted for lavish parties hosted here regularly.
The demolition process followed orders of the Bombay High Court in a Public Interest Litigation filed by NGO Shamburaje Yuva Kranti (SYK), seeking action against various illegal bungalows, hotels and resorts violating the high tide and low tide zones in tiny villages dotting the beaches of Raigad.
SYK state chief Surendra Dhavale said that so far 10 bungalows have been demolished in the past few months, and now Modi’s bungalow was razed, with at least another four dozen on the Collector’s demolition list.
“The claimed value of the (Modi) property is cited as Rs 13 crore, but given the current market rates, this bungalow is worth over Rs 100 crore,” Dhavale told IANS.
Besides, Choksi – now a citizen of Antigua & Barbuda, many celebrities, industrialists, top businessmen, film and television personalities own big and small properties on this picturesque stretch of central coastal Konkan region, barely an hour’s boat ride from the mainland at Gateway of India.