In 2005, then UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav inaugurated Ponty’s Wave Multiplex, the first mall and multiplex in Lucknow. During Mulayam’s tenure, Ponty bought an 18-acre prime plot in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar for group housing and a multi-crore contract for supply of nutritional supplements under Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).
Ponty continued to expand and diversify his business during Maywati’s tenure as Chief Minister. His first major deal was finalised in 2009, when he was given control over wholesale liquor trade in Uttar Pradesh. The deal brought him into the limelight. “Ponty was given the total wholesale business of liquor in UP along with the lucrative retail business in Meerut. Across the state, nearly 40 per cent of retail liquor trade was in Ponty’s hands. We had protested against it, but in vain,” Lucknow Liquor Association spokesperson Anil Aggrawal said. His company Flora and Fauna Pvt Ltd handled country-made liquor, while his firm Prakash & Company took care of Indian-made foreign liquor.
Ponty also bought 21 sugar mills owned by state government. A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report severely indicted the two companies which purchased the sugar mills — Wave Industries Pvt Ltd and PBS Food Pvt Ltd — both allegedly owned by Ponty. The report said the state suffered a loss of Rs 1,179.84 crore due to anomalies and discrepancies in the process of disinvestment in state-owned sugar mills. It highlighted undervaluation of land and buildings of the sugar mills by advisers.
Akhilesh Yadav spoke about these discrepancies during his poll campaign and after assuming power, he handed over the probe into sale of sugar mills to the UP Lokayukta.
The Samajwadi Party (SP), however, invited Ponty to the swearing-in ceremony of the Akhilesh Yadav government. A seat was reserved for him in the VVIP enclosure for the CM’s relatives. His son Monty Chadha attended the ceremony.
SP’s national general secretary made it a point to attend the marriage ceremony of Ponty’s daughter in the Capital.
After assuming power again, the SP government chose to continue with the excise policy formulated by the Mayawati government. Due to this policy, Ponty was again given total control over wholesale liquor trade.
Few people can claim to have met Ponty Chadha. Even top bureaucrats said they had never met Ponty. A for District Magistrate recalled that he had invited Ponty to a charity event in Aligarh district and asked for sponsorship. “The money arrived but Ponty never came,” he said.
Ponty struck gold with his diversification into liquor business. Now Ponty’s group owns distilleries in UP and Punjab. During the BSP regime, there were reports that Ponty exploited his monopoly by raising the price of liquor.
Ponty also has stake in real estate with malls and multiplexes in Noida, Kaushambi, Lucknow, Moradabad, Ludhiana and Delhi. His 4,800-acre Hi-Tech City in Ghaziabad is the biggest housing project in the country. The project was launched during when Mulayam was the CM and developed in Mayawati’s tenure.
Besides this, he has residential projects in Moradabad, Greater Noida and other parts of the country. Ponty also has stakes in paper mills both in UP and Uttrakhand. His fortunes did not dip even when many of his establishments were raided by I-T sleuths in February.
Firstly this incident is indicative of what happens when riches come to persons undeserving of them. Such feuds do not happen in families of Narayana Murthy or Bill Gates. They happen in families of Mahajans, Amar Singhs, Mayawatis, Mulayams, Ponty Chaddhas who keep ill-gotten gains from bribes, kickbacks, extortions and such crimes. Such ill-gotten wealth is invested in real estate as that is the sector in which your money appreciates without much effort, innovation, engineering or scientific accomplishments. Secondly Ponty Chaddha's wealth seems to be hugely under-reported. I would probably be ten times the reported amount of INR 6000 crores. The more such incidents happen, the better, so that people realize that there is no short-cut to happiness and prosperity. The other thing to watch is that many politicians' money would be sunk as many of them (past & present) had given their money for safe-keeping to Ponty.