Chandru Punjabee – the man behind a township for Sindhis
Sindhis do need a township – to enjoy the bond of kinship, to nurture the individuality and to be together.
Just imagine a million Sindhis in a township!
I met our dear friend, architect, builder and philanthropist Shri Chandru Punjabee, the man behind this movement, after a long time. We had a chat about his dream project for Sindhis. Housing. While I am not free to reveal the details at this stage, all I can say is that this would be an ultra-modern township which would have luxury towers at affordable prices, schools, colleges, hospitals and all other amenities one can think of. It would be a mega project.
While the tentative name to the project is “Sndhunagar”, it may end up as ‘Char Dhaam’. Char Dhaam because the township is going to have the replicas of the four holy places – to the scale and exact reproductions.
The replicas will have the same Feng Shui, the same Vastu that the dhaams have.
A deeply spiritual person, Chandru is talking about giving back to the society which has given him so much. The man is such a giver that he says, “The medical services would be free for the needy without humiliating the needy. It would be enough if you say that you’re needy. The hospital wouldn’t ask for proofs, salary slips and letters to establish that you’re needy.
“And while the flats would be exclusively for Sindhis, they will be free to resale to anyone, anytime.” Says the dashing and dynamic Punjabee.
At some stage, Udta Sindhi will disclose all the details about the entire project.
But at the moment a little more about this man of great enterprise.
I try to find a link between his roots and his dreams. The Punjabee family that owned acres of land and buildings in Pakistan, came penniless to Mumbai. Chandru’s father had the showrooms of luxury cars like Plymouth and Dodge in Quetta. He married just a month before the partition and came to Bombay carrying small amount, insignificant if seen in the context of the huge assets they had.
He wanted to start construction business and received an order for construction material from Century Rayon. Punjabees purchased a piece of land to quarry stones and other material. Unfortunately, the land yielded only mud. Suffering losses in the very first project, he got a job at a salary of Rs 150 a month.
Chandru was born in one of the military barracks given to his father
in Ulhasnagar. He and his siblings are the products of this period of struggle and need. He grew up to be an architect and a builder.
But for Punjabee, who has moved from Ulhasnagar to Colaba and then to Juhu, Ulhasnagar has always remained Sindhunagar, a name given to it informally by the Sindhis who lived there.
Decades back, my maternal aunt Sita B Advani, who lived in Khar, told us that the building she lived in had been acquired by a Sindhi builder. He wanted to redevelop it and also to have his offices in the same building.
By the time I could meet her, in a fast development, she had sold her flat and shifted to another building.
She told me that, “I thought they might harass me, as often happens in Khar and Bandra, specially because of his Shiv Sena connections, but the builder is a real gentleman. He was so polite and kind enough to offer me more than the market rate. His office also helped me find another flat a little away in an equally good area.”
“Who is the builder?” Curious, I asked her.
“Chandru Punjabee.” she said promptly. Shiv Sena had started its Sindhi wing during the same period and, close to Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray, Punjabee headed this wing.
Chandru was already a well known name with his social activities and philanthropy. Starting in early ’80s, with an association with Andheri Sindhi Panchayat, to help the needy Sindhis in assisting them with the marriage expenses, he found himself being approached by several organisations.
Chandru never says ‘no’ when asked to help a good community cause.
He went on growing in stature. There was a time when he used to be invited as a Chief Guest by almost every Sindhi organisation and panchayat to celebrate Cheti Chand, the Sindhi New Year, festival. This is when began his association with Sindh Panchayat Federation. Nari Gursahani, a prominent lawyer and the President of The Federation welcomed him to become the Vice President of the biggest organisation of Sindhis.
Today, he is the President of this umbrella body of all the Sindhi panchayats in India and abroad.
Besides in Mumbai, Chandru Punjabee has offices in Dubai and London. His son Harsh Chandru Punjabee is in entertainment business and has acquired two channels.