Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani at the Bengal Global Business Summit on Tuesday committed to invest another Rs 5,000 crore in Bengal in non-Jio businesses over the next three years after having invested Rs 15,000 crore in the state to give a digital push. Commitments of investing another Rs 10,000 crore in the state came in from JSW Group chairman Sajjan Jindal, who inaugurated his 2.4million tonne per annum cement plant at an investment of Rs 500 crore, on Sunday. Although steel baron Lakshmi Narayan Mittal, Kotak Mahindra chairman Uday Kotak, Indorama Ventures PCL chairman and CEO Alok Lohia, Hirnandani Group chairman Niranjan Hiranandani were present at the summit, none of them committed any investment at the inaugural of the summit. While homegrown industrialists like Sanjeev Goenka, chairman of the RP Sanjeev Goenka Group, committed constructing a new carbon black plant, investing another Rs 1,000 crore in power distribution business and venturing into the health care segment, Spicejet chairman and CEO Ajay Singh evinced interest in making West Bengal a hub for sea planes. He said any river or lake could well be a runway for such planes. Such planes could be used to give a boost to tourism in regions like Sunderbans and Sagar islands.
West Bengal finance and industry minister Amit Mitra announced that Adventz Group chairman Saroj Poddar would invest another Rs 1,000 crore in his fertiliser business, while claiming that a number of investment proposals were lined up, which were likely to be announced at the conclusion of the two-day business summit. According to chief secretary Malay Dey the last summit attracted investments worth Rs 2,35,000 crore and the investment proposals this year are likely to surpass the last year’s figure. Construction work for projects worth Rs 85,000 crore has already started, according to figures released by the summit organisers. Ambani, who made the inaugural comment at the summit, termed West Bengal as best Bengal, and said the state “has said good bye to the slow growth of the past”. It was way ahead than other states in terms of investment in infrastructure and was number one in the ease of doing business. Industrial growth rate in West Bengal was higher than any other state, Ambani said, adding that it was at this backdrop he was rolling out his seven-point programme, which included connecting all the towns and villages of West Bengal with Jio connection by December 2018, connect the whole of Bengal with optic fibre which will enable Jio network to connect every single education centre and hospitals in the state by December 2019, provide network for government to citizens services in 5 districts with immediate effect, set up an electronic goods manufacturing hub in the state with multiple partners, make Jio phone available in the state on a priority basis and develop GST complaint cloud-based platform for sale solution to retailers. Reliance Jio will set up a chair in the honour of scientist Satyendranath Bose in a leading University of the state.
Ambani’s Rs 5,000-crore investment in a non-Jio business would include setting up oil sector retail outlets in the next three years. He said in the business summit of 2016 he committed investment of Rs 4,500 crore in the state. Since business environment in the sate has become conducive, his investment reached Rs 15,000 crore in the last two years. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee stressed on improved partnership with China and Asean countries for sustainable development of the entire eastern region. Around 300 delegates attended the summit from 30 countries with Britain, France, Germany, Poland, Italy,Japan, South Korea and Czech Republic participating as partner countries.