The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Indonesia silver lining

Calcutta, Oct. 25: Ushering in hopes of major investment in Bengal, the Salim Group of Indonesia — one of Asia’s largest conglomerates — today said it would explore the possibilities of setting up industry and examine the infrastructure in the state.

Two task forces are being set up: one by the Indonesian group and another by the state government which will liaise with it.

After talks with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today, Salim Group chief executive Beni Santoso said: “We have identified some areas and discussed sectors like food processing, agro-based industry, township, automobile and power for exploring the possibility of investment.”

“We have discussed investment possibilities in many areas, particularly construction of a new township,” Bhattacharjee said.

“Our talks also revolved around sectors like food processing and packaging, as well as forming a chain of hotels and shopping malls. I told them about our need for medical and power equipment. But Santoso informed us (that) officials dealing with the two areas are not part of their present team. So (the) officials concerned will come later to discuss these areas.”

The Indonesian task force will include officials of the Salim Group and PT Chiputra, a construction company, as well as Calcutta-born industrialist Prasun Mukherjee, who paved the way for today’s meeting. Asked if any concrete project is in the offing, Santoso said: “We hope so.”

After a visit by executives to Dankuni, Rajarhat and West Howrah, the Salim Group has expressed interest in setting up an industrial-cum-residential township, not a wholly residential one. The two sides looked at an investment range of Rs 8,000-10,000 crore.

The state has made headway in talks on fruit processing with the Salim Group. Different kinds of fruits — from Bengal or other states — could be processed and sent to Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries, which have a huge demand.

Bhattacharjee and Santoso also discussed investment in the power sector. As a first step, the Salim Group, through one of its power utilities, will partner with the Dishergarh Power Supply Corporation.

An MoU was recently signed for setting up a 10.5 MW unit at Dishergarh in the next 18 months, and another three in the next four years which will also see an infusion of Rs 200-250 crore into the venture.

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