Calcutta, June 18: Reliance Industries Ltd has revived its Bengal plan five years after its chairman Mukesh Ambani came calling with investment proposals in farm retail and natural gas.
A senior RIL official said the company wanted to build four to five cash-and-carry (wholesale) stores in and around Calcutta.
We are quite excited about the opportunities in Bengal. The company has big plans for the state, Tarun Jhunjhunwala, a senior RIL official in charge of the east, said.
The company is looking for land for the wholesale business. So far, only German giant Metro has set up such a venture in Bengal. Each store may call for an investment of Rs 150-200 crore. Named Reliance Market, the stores will sell food, groceries and stationery that are purchased by hotels, restaurants and neighbourhood kirana stores.
Reliance will open its first such store in Ahmedabad soon. Each floor of such a store will have an area of one lakh square feet. The company is also planning to set up many hypermarkets in Calcutta, each spread over 60,000-80,000 square feet.
The company has a few Reliance Fresh stores in and around Calcutta. It also has a number of specialised stores selling footwear and electronic products.
Jhunjhunwala, who attended the industry meeting called by Mamata Banerjee today, is hoping the change of guard would augur well for the company this time round.
Even though the previous Left Front government, especially former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and industries minister Nirupam Sen, had laid out the red carpet for Mukesh in 2006, they could not push through Reliances proposals because of the Forward Blocs resistance.
The company, which had won a bid from the Calcutta Municipal Corporation to rebuild the Park Circus market, could not make headway on that project, either.
Reliance is now hoping for a speedy resolution to the Park Circus issue, Jhunjhunwala said.
However, the approach of the new government towards the entry of big investors into wholesale and retail business is yet to be articulated. Political parties are sometimes wary of these projects fearing large-scale job displacement.
German company Metro got the nod to start its operations only after an unprecedented intervention by Bhattacharjee as the Bloc-led agri marketing board sat on the proposal.
Reliance also faced the boards ire on retail.
It is likely that the archaic APMC (agri-process marketing committee) act needs to be amended before Reliance can embark on unfettered expansion.