Thane: On Monday, when a blue-coloured helicopter landed in a cloud of dust in an open ground in Vadpe village near Bhiwandi in Maharashtra, virtually the entire village ran out to gawk at it and welcome its owner Janardhar Bhoir.
Bhoir, 55, a down-to-earth farmer-cum-builder-cum-entrepreneur, but with high-flying ambitions, has invested in a chopper to help manage his businesses spread across several cities and states in western and northwest India.
“I belong to farming family. A few years ago, I entered the realty business constructing huge warehouses which are in great demand in this region, and later diversified into the dairy business also,” Bhoir told IANS, as his mobile phone kept ringing incessantly.
A veritable frequent flyer, almost every week he flies to places in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and occasionally to other major cities, but rued that he wasted a lot of time in road traffic, at airports and getting convenient connections to smaller places that are off the air-map.
“A pilot friend of mine suggested I could consider acquiring a helicopter for my extensive domestic travels which could be economical and even profitable in the long run. Somehow, the idea clicked and a few months ago, I started enquiring for a helicopter suited to my needs,” he said.
After exploring all options, the qualified lawyer – who served as the unanimously-elected Sarpanch of Vadpe village for 25 years – finally settled for a Bell-407 7-seater helicopter costing around Rs 30 crore, with 90 per cent finance by a local bank.
Marking the auspicious Maghi Ganeshotsav on Monday, the chopper made a trial flight and gave a surprise joyride to the newly-elected Gram Panchayat members, including the new Sarpanch of Vadpe.
“The helicopter will be delivered and permanently stationed here from March 15. I have created a separate department for it, a 2.5-acre plot for the helipad, a maintenance centre, appointed an experienced pilot Mark Ramchanda, two helicopter engineers, with 24×7 security, accommodation for all and deployed other safety and security arrangements,” Bhoir said.
Owning more than 300 acres of land in and around Thane, where he cultivates rice, vegetables and certain types of fruits like mango, cashewnuts, sometime ago, Bhoir ventured into the dairy business which is now flourishing with a turnover of Rs 50 lakh per month.
“I have to travel several times to buy new cows and buffaloes to remote parts of Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana and with this chopper I can save a lot of time,” he said.
On the reactions of his family, he said his wife Alka is on cloud nine while his young sons Vidur and Pratik are thrilled by the latest aerial asset acquired by the family, said the equally proud Bhoir.
The Bhoirs already own a fleet of half-a-dozen high-end and luxury vehicles and serve as an inspiration to the people in the entire region, and the 2,000-odd people of Vadpe.
Bhoir said the chopper can take him to Delhi and bring him back the same day, with at least one refuelling halt in between, without having to rush to Mumbai airport to catch regular commercial flights.
“Yesterday, I reached Bhiwandi to Mumbai in just 9 minutes, compared to minimum three hours by road. Calculate how much time I would save now,” he pointed out.
When asked whether he would rent it out to VVIPs or businessmen or others, Bhoir chuckled and said some Bollywood producers have already requested that they need the chopper for at least 30 hours a month to ferry top stars, directors, and even for shooting purposes.
“Besides, others also want it for other purposes like some corporate events, lavish weddings, etc. If this helps me to recover the costs partially, I may consider renting it out selectively,” he said, eyeing some extra income.