Builder Paras Porwal dies by suicide

Mumbai: Paras Shantilal Porwal, 57, a well-known builder died by suicide early Thursday morning. The police said one of the possible reasons for his death was that the builder had suffered huge financial losses as several of his projects had been held up.

The builder reportedly jumped off the terrace of a 23-storey building in Chinchpokli where he lived with his family in a duplex flat, the accidental death report (ADR) registered at Kalachowkie police station stated.

His body was discovered by a priest of a temple located inside the premises of the building that was constructed by Porwal’s company, Om Shanti Universal Private Ltd, the police said.

A note reportedly written by Porwal was found inside the gymnasium in his house, which absolved any person of responsibility for his death, the police said. The note was reportedly written in his diary in Gujarati and Hindi and across multiple pages.

“When we searched his house, in the gymnasium area we found a ‘suicide note’ that said ‘Nobody is responsible for my death and nobody should be questioned about it’,” a police officer from the Kalachowkie police station said. The note also carried some words of guidance for his son, Rony, the police said.

“A priest in the temple heard loud thud and later saw Porwal lying in pool of blood. The priest immediately informed his family members and Porwal was taken to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead on arrival,” the officer said.

Hailing from Jalore in Rajasthan, Paras Porwal came to Mumbai in early 1980s as a migrant and before he began his career as a developer, he lived in a chawl in Ambewadi in Kalachowkie with his sister’s family. “He had humble beginnings. He used to sell imitation jewellery in trains initially and sleep outside shops in Kalachowkie. Slowly he started a real estate brokerage business. Around 1985 Paras Gundecha of Gundecha Developers who also belonged to Jalore, gave him his first commission to sell flats in a project,” BJP secretary and ex-MLA from Kankavli assembly constituency, Pramod Jathar, who partnered with him for some redevelopment projects in central Mumbai, said.

Porwal later moved to selling plots. His first big redevelopment project was Bawalawadi redevelopment project opposite Voltas Tower in Parel. “I was then living in Balewadi Chawls and I was the secretary of the chawl society. Paras offered to get a developer to redevelop the chawls. Later, we decided to redevelop it ourselves,” Jathar said.

In 1991, the Development Control Regulations were amended giving a push to the redevelopment of BMC-owned old buildings. “I was part of the BMC Improvements committee then, and along with Porwal, I took up redevelopment of eight to nine projects in central Mumbai areas like Worli, Lalbaug, Parel, and Mazgaon. Those days big developers had not entered redevelopment,” said Jathar.

Some of the other redevelopment projects Porwal’s firm undertook included Kach Kharkhana in Wadala and Prerna Society redevelopment on Sasmira Institute Road in Worli Naka. “Porwal’s specialization was that he would get do the initial work of obtaining consent from the tenants in redevelopment projects, and approvals from the BMC, and then sell the project to a bigger player.” said an industry source, pointing out that Porwal sold the Prerna Society redevelopment project to Sugee Developers and exited the project. Porwal was also reportedly working on the Jijamata Nagar redevelopment project in Kalachowkie.

“Porwal was a disciple of Shantisuri Maharaj from Rajasthan, and that’s why his construction firm was called Om Shanti, and all the buildings he redeveloped had Shanti in their name,” Jathar added.

“He has over 50 employees in his office in Byculla east. He had projects in Aambewadi, Kalachowkie, Jijamata Nagar, Subhedar Nagar, Worli, and two projects in Chembur and one in Mahim,” one of his employees, who did not wish to be named, said.

Porwal was also known to be a philanthropist who donated generously to mandals during the festive season.

“He was a very generous person and donated considerable sums to Ganpati and Navratrotsav Mandals every year. Leaders like Kalidas Kolambkar [BJP], Ajay Chaudhari and Dagadu Sakpal [both from Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena] among others attended his funeral,” another employee added.

Baba Jadhav, a leader of Thackeray-led Sena faction said Porwal’s story was “a rags-to-riches story”. “He started off as a real estate agent and stayed in a chawl in Ambewadi, Kalachowkie. He developed an empire, formed his own group, Om Shanti group, that had several subsidiaries,” Jadhav said.

Sachin Padwal, a councillor from Sewri recalled that Porwal contested the 2004 assembly elections from Mazgaon assembly constituency as a candidate of the Samajwadi Party. “He lost to Bala Nandgaonkar,” Padwal said. Though the main contest was between Nandgaonkar, who was then with the Shiv Sena, and Chhagan Bhujbal’s son Pankaj from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Porwal emerged third with 7,888 votes, election results showed.

Nandgaonkar, now a Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader, attended Porwal’s cremation held on Thursday. “I messaged him at 10 pm yesterday. He told me he will speak to me today [Thursday]. He was a very good person and was known to never have any enemies. His death has come as a shock for all of us,” he said.

Porwal is survived by his mother, Shanti Devi, wife Manju, son Rony and daughter-in-law, Akruti, and daughter, Rikki.

(With inputs by Satish Nandgaonkar)

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