Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

Re­liance to in­vest ₹5,000 cr in Ben­gal, says Mukesh Am­bani

- Arkamoy Dutta Majumdar arkamoy.m@livemint.com

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.

 ?? MINT ?? West Ben­gal CM Ma­mata Ban­er­jee with RIL CMD Mukesh Am­bani in West Ben­gal on Tues­day
MINT West Ben­gal CM Ma­mata Ban­er­jee with RIL CMD Mukesh Am­bani in West Ben­gal on Tues­day

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