Before his firm Serum Institute played a decisive role in India's successful vaccination during the pandemic, Cyrus Poonawalla was also known for his lifestyle with flashy cars and pricey properties. Eight years back, he had made news for buying the Rs 988 crore Lincon House in South Mumbai, but hasn't been able to move in till date, over a property dispute.
Poonawalla's big purchase has been stuck for years because while the American government sold it to him, the Maharashtra state and the central Defence Ministry also claim ownership.
Questioning the government's rationale
The blocked sale of the erstwhile American consulate has prompted Poonawalla, who usually supports state policies like most corporates, to question the government's decision.
He has called it a political and socialist move to prevent $120 million from going out of India into the US' coffers.
In a recent interview, Poonawalla also complained that the government hasn't provided any rational argument to prevent the purchase.
Mumbai mansions stuck in political logjams
The palace by the Arabian Sea, built by the Maharaja of Wankaner in 1938, is one of many properties in Mumbai that are decaying and crumbling due to disputes.
This includes Mohammed Ali Jinnah's South Court in Malabar Hill, which is claimed by the Pakistani government as well as his daughter Dina Wadia's family.
Poonawalla's palace was handed over to be used as the US consulate in 1955 on a 999-year lease, but was sold to him when the consulate moved to BKC.
The Serum Institute founder intended to use the grand compound as a weekend home in the city.
Currently, the US and Indian governments are actively negotiating a solution to the dispute.
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