One of Nepal’s most eminent business leaders Banwarilal Mitaal passed away on Nov 25 at his residence in Kathmandu at the age of 79. He was a household name in the socio-economic domain of Nepali society. A trend setter in several business enterprises in Nepal, he was also a pioneer name in the country’s airline industry. He had started a helicopter service in Nepal in 2055 BS with the brand name of Shree Airlines. with a view to provide air services to remote areas.
Established as the largest airlines company in the country, the helicopters of Shree Airlines are still providing air services to remote Himalayan and hilly districts of Nepal. It has also successfully provided air services for various UN peace missions and the UN World Food Programme. Mittal had started the service with a fleet of five helicopters.
Mittal was born to a business house at Watu Tole in Kathmandu in 1992 BS. His was a family which had earned the reputation of being one of the 32 Kothi Mahajans (thirty two eminent business households). Initially, he had started his career with a clothes store known as Hanumandas Clothes Store traditionally run by his father. After coming back from his studies, he set up B.L. Mittal and Mittal and Construction Company in 2015 BS. Then, he accomplished the construction of the Kathmadu-Janakpur Road, Nepalgunj-Surkhet Road and a number of irrigation projects. As democracy was at an initial stage, he started an import business through Mittal and Company in 2023 BS. He left this business in 2054. He also imported garments from China and Korea through his Sugan Garment Company. He also established North Nepal Tea Estate Company. He took a dealership of the National Trading Company in 2021 B.S. and participated in the World Trade Expo held in Japan in 2027 B.S. by setting up a company stall.
Soft spoken and transparent, he liked good business practices and encouraged others to do the same. He believed that only the wealth earned through one’s sweat and hard labour would last and that anything that is earned through deception would not give spiritual happiness. He also considered it a great act of piety to spend part of the profit in social service. He unswervingly followed the path of integrity throughout his life. The swelling crowd of mourners who had reached Aryaghat for his funeral vindicated this.
His contribution to the country’s chamber movement is memorable. Mittal, who held the position of President of Nepal Chamber of Commerce for two terms was also a founding chairperson of Nepal Construction Entrepreneurs’ Association. He was one of the founders of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries and was former chairperson of Marwadi Sewa Samiti. He had held positions like acting treasurer of the Pashupati Area Development Trust, was a founding member of Nepal Eye Hospital and founding treasurer of Nepal Netrajyoti Sangh. Founder of Alok Bidyashram, he was also the founding director of the South Asian Institute of Management. Adviser to the Nepal National Marwadi Council, he was affiliated with many religious, business and social institutions. Mittal, who also dedicated his thoughts to Nepal’s politics, was considered an intellect of the business community. He belonged to the few people who have carried out serious study of Vedic religion and culture.
He was a business person but stood out from the crowd. He often said, “I wanted to know about the way of life of the hill people. I noticed that people in the hills have a compulsion to trek for four hours only to fetch drinking water. After that I took the contract for building the Kathmandu-Trisuli Highway.” He visited Japan and Australia five decades ago to learn the ropes of business. He said that he learnt the art of business from the association he had with the business persons of these countries.
Always proud of serving the nation through business, he was decorated with the Suprabal Gorkha Dakshinbahu Third, Coronation Medal, Birendra-Aishwarya Medal and many other national honours. He is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters.