U’khand HC seeks report from state govt on South African business tycoon Gupta’s wedding at Auli 

The court also demanded to know as to who in the state government had given permission to fly helicopters for the wedding at the ecologically fragile Auli meadow

A tented colony being erected at Auli for the Rs 200 crore lavish wedding of the sons of South African businessmen the Gupta brothers.
A tented colony being erected at Auli for the Rs 200 crore lavish wedding of the sons of South African businessmen the Gupta brothers.

SMA Kazmi

In a major embarrassment to the state BJP government, Nainital High court today asked the state Pollution Control board to give a status report on the alleged environmental damage done at the skiing resort of Auli in Chamoli district due to high profile wedding ceremonies of two sons of famous South African businessmen Gupta brothers. The wedding ceremonies are being held at the Auli meadows at an altitude of 12,000 feet in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a Kashipur resident namely Rakshit Joshi, against holding of such extravagant event at such ecologically fragile areas, a division bench of the Nainital High Court comprising Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Alok Verma asked the Uttarakhand Pollution Control board to give status report about the damage which is expected to be done by the high profile wedding.

The court also wanted to know that who in the state government has given permission to fly helicopters for the wedding at the Auli meadow. The petitioner had contended that such high profile weddings would damage the environment while the state government has failed to implement the directions of the High court given to preserve Himalayan meadows.

It is estimated that the wedding would cost Rs 200 crores. Already a VIP tented colony has been set up at the Auli meadow with a preperations which had been going on for the past ten days nearing completion. The wedding ceremonies started with Gupta brothers hosting the local population on June 17.

High profile guests from across the globe are expected to take part in the wedding ceremonies of Surykant son of Ajay Gupta with Kritika, daughter of Suresh Singhal from Delhi and Shashank, son of Atul Gupta with Shivangi, daughter of Vishal Jalan based in Dubai.

More than 10 private helicopters have been hired to ferry the guests which include close family members, businessmen, politician and Bollywood stars from Delhi and Sahastradhara helipad at Dehradun.

The Gupta brothers who are known to be close to former South African President Jacob Zuma had earlier also courted controversy during a wedding ceremony in the family held in south African when the then South African President allowed a military airport to bring in wedding guests of the Guptas. This became a major political issue with South African opposition against then President Jacob Zuma.

But that was zilch compared to what the Guptas -- Ajay, Atul and Rajesh -- are actually accused of having done in the country.

In 2016, a South African government official testified that the Guptas had offered him the position of finance minister for playing ball in a huge corruption case.

Thanks to their close ties to President Zuma, and with the help of leading international firms such as McKinsey, the Guptas are estimated to have sucked at least 7 billion dollars out of South Africa's national treasury.

When the scam surfaced, Zuma was forced to resign, McKinsey had to offer a public apology for its role in the scandal while the Guptas fled to Dubai, leaving behind a rioting crowd of starving miners who had been deprived of their dues in the Optimum Coal Mine that had been procured by the brothers in Dceembner 2015 in an alleged corrupt deal brokered and financed by the government.

Last year, income tax raids were conducted at the residences of Gupta brothers at various places in India including Dehradun and Saharanpur.

Meanwhile, media reports said that the brothers met Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat recently and changed the wedding venue from Italy to Auli after Rawat reportedly apprised them of his plans to to promote the hill state as a wedding destination.

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Published: 18 Jun 2019, 10:30 AM