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No Fear No Favour

Maldives awards Olialia India, Abhishek Verma’s firm to build international airport

The Government of Maldives has awarded a huge lagoon to Olialia India, a global firm owned by former defence dealer and entrepreneur Abhishek Verma for the development of an international airport last week. According to company sources the lagoon, which has only water, is far away from Male the capital of Maldives where there is a need for an international airport and it will be known as Olialia International Airport.

According to Maldivian media, the Government of Maldives has ‘invited’ an Indian firm Olialia to construct an international airport in the country. Reportedly, the letter inviting Olialia signed by Maldives’ Tourism Minister Moosa Zameer, is addressed to Anca Verma, Abhishek’s spouse, former Miss Romania. As per the proposed ‘build, own, transfer’ model by the Tourism Ministry of Maldives, Olialia will be running the airport for 50 years, after which it will be handed over to the Government.

When contacted, the Olialia India spokesperson stated that Government of Maldives will not be liable for any finance and the company will invest 100 percent finance in the project. Therefore no sovereign guaranty issued by the Maldivian government for this project. The fully developed airport will be handed over to the government after 50 years and the expected value of the airport will be $ 6 billion by that time. The project will generate more than 5,000 employment opportunities to the local Maldivians.

Disclosing ambitious plans of foraying into airlines business and other major plans, the Spokesperson of Olialia India said “Olialia has tied up with one of the leading global construction companies for Maldives airport project. Besides a world-class airport, Olialia will bring in hundreds of thousands of tourists annually to Maldives on Olialia Airlines which is slated to take off in the middle of 2018 offering direct nonstop flights from Lithuania, Germany, and London to Maldives”.

The spokesperson added “besides Olilia International Airport in Maldives, the facility would also be developed as a regional hub for Maintenance and Repair Organisation (MRO) for passenger jets in the Indian ocean region catering to airlines of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and other aircraft for maintenance and C-checks to Hamburg and Toulouse in Europe.

The project would bring in close to $500 million in foreign investment in Maldives as well as an influx of hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

It may be recalled, that the construction contract of Maldives international airport at the country’s capital, Male, was earlier offered to the GMR group of India. The GMR group bagged the contract during the regime of Maldives’ former President Mohamed Nasheed. Though escalating political pressure in the country resulted in the cancellation of the $500 million contract. However, years later, now another Indian firm, headed by Abhishek Verma bagged the massive deal, marking as a major success for the known businessman who is soon foraying into the cola and food business by bringing a Lithuanian brand to the country under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Verma plans to launch three versions of Olialia Cola, including a spicy cardamom flavour, by summer of next year. Besides that, he is also planning to manufacture ready-to-eat food under the same brand name. He plans 32 varieties of vegetarian food and about 17-18 varieties of non-vegetarian food.

Born of illustrious parents, he rose to the ranks of the rich and the powerful, is in process of building global conglomerate named Olialia India diversifying into entertainment industry to food business and running airlines. Abhishek’s father Srikant Verma was an eminent poet, journalist and famously known as former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi’s Hindi tutor. In the 1980s, he joined the Congress and went on to become General Secretary and Spokesperson of the party. Both he and his wife Veena Verma served multiple terms as Member of Parliament in Upper House called Rajya Sabha.

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