Poison GIFT for ex-GSPC chief Tapan Ray

Vol 22, PW 18 (27 Jun 19) News in Brief

Ex-GSPC managing director Tapan Ray has been pulled out of retirement to work his magic at debt-ridden Gujarat International Finance Tec-City or GIFT - a 50-50 partnership between the Gujarat state government and beleaguered IL&FS.

"Ray has been given a clear mandate," says a Gandhinagar source of Ray’s June 11 appointment. "Turn it (GIFT) into a success story."

Conceived in 2007 by Narendra Modi when Gujarat chief minister, the Rs70,000cr ($10bn) proposed financial hub outside Gandhinagar was designed to rival Dubai, Shanghai, Singapore and London. But it’s struggling for survival.

Walk across 880 acres allocated for the project and all you see are two buildings - not 100, filled with finance professionals, envisioned by those advising Modi. "Not only is progress slow," adds a source.

"Nobody wants to re-locate here because of its location." Adding to its troubles is the dire financial state of near-bankrupt IL&FS, sitting on a debt mountain of Rs99,354cr ($14.2bn).

As GSPC managing director, Ray was successful in rooting out corruption, facing down troublesome contractors (Tuff Drilling), challenging JV partners (GeoGlobal Resources) and streamlining spiralling costs. He left GSPC in September 2014 for DEITY in Delhi and retired last year (2018).