Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)
Reliance to invest ₹5,000 cr in Bengal, says Mukesh Ambani
KOLKATA: As an opposition leader a decade ago, Mamata Banerjee had demonised industry with her often violent protests against land acquisition for factories. When she took office as the chief minister in 2011, there was a lot of apprehension and scepticism.
Six-and-a-half years on, Banerjee on Monday appealed to people who have sold land for industrial projects to receive investors with love and respect, speaking at Salboni where JSW Cement Ltd has set up 2.4 million tonne unit. Winds of change are blowing in West Bengal, and fresh investments have started to trickle in.
Rooting for the state, Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), on Tuesday said in Kolkata that two years ago he had committed to invest ₹4,500 crore in West Bengal. His company has invested ₹15,000 crore in West Bengal—more than three times the committed amount, Ambani claimed.
“Bengal knows that it must prosper,” Ambani said at the Biswa Bangla convention centre where a two-day business conference started on Tuesday. “And this convention centre (which covers an area of 457,000 sq ft) is an example...it is a testimony to your vision and mission.”
Claiming that RIL had emerged as one of the leading investors in West Bengal, Ambani said his company was able to plough in ₹15,000 crore within two years largely because of “enabling policy infrastructure”. Most of the amount went into building Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd’s network in the state, creating 100,000 direct and indirect jobs, Ambani claimed.
He announced plans to invest at least ₹5,000 crore more in “Jio and the entire digital ecosystem, retail and petro retail in the next few years,” capping seven other commitments he made to the state on Monday.
Jio will expand its optic fibre network and connect every school and hospital in the state. His company is building “stateof-the-art manufacturing facilities” for consumer devices such as mobile phones and set-top boxes, and will make West Bengal “the hub for innovation”.
“Things have changed in Bengal,” said Sajjan Jindal, chairman of the JSW Group, which has set up a cement manufacturing unit at a cost of ₹800 crore. On Tuesday, he committed to plough in ₹10,000 crore over the years by setting up a paint manufacturing plant and a steel processing unit.
Among other smaller commitments made on Tuesday, SpiceJet Ltd chairman Ajay Singh said his company was weighing the option of making West Bengal the hub for seaplanes, or aircraft capable of taking off and landing on water. His company has already placed a large order for seaplanes, he added.
Sanjiv Goenka, chairman of the RP-Sanjiv Goenka group, said he was looking to invest ₹1,000 crore to scale up power distribution and to set up a food processing unit. The group is expanding the Woodlands hospital in Kolkata, which is controlled by it, and scaling up the production capacity of its carbon black production facility in Durgapur, he added.