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A ‘novel’ beginning for AMRI Big names back AMRI

- Book based on Emami co-founder’s life talks of trial by fire

AMRI Hospitals Dhakuria has promised a “new beginning”, encapsulating the lessons of the past in a Hindi novel based on co-owner R.S. Agarwal’s life that devotes 10 pages to the fire tragedy of December 2011 and its aftermath.

Ek nayee shuruaat hogi (There will be a new beginning),” Agarwal, who co-founded the Emami Group that has a 66 per cent stake in the hospital, told Metro at the book launch on Tuesday. “We are planning to start AMRI in a new way.”

The novel’s title, Ek Aur Brahmand (One more universe), appears to mirror that ambition.

Sources said the Emami and Shrachi groups, co-owners of AMRI Hospitals, had already spent about Rs 40 crore on renovating the Dhakuria facility and were planning to pump in another Rs 100 crore.

The families of Agarwal and his friend and Emami co-owner R.S. Goenka attended Tuesday’s book launch at Starmark, the Emami-owned bookstore at South City Mall.

S.K. Todi represented Shrachi, which has a 32 per cent stake in AMRI. Industrialists Suresh Neotia, H.P. Budhia, Mahendra Jalan and J.P. Chowdhary came, too.

The guests cheered as Agarwal, 68, spoke about the “utaar-chadhao (ups and downs)” of life. He had been arrested along with seven other AMRI directors after the fire in Annexe I of AMRI Dhakuria on December 9, 2011, that took 91 lives.

The 10-page chapter on AMRI in Ek Aur Brahmand describes how the incident took a toll on Agarwal’s health, including his hospitalisation after hearing about the fire.

Industry sources said the line-up of guests at the book launch reflected the Emami Group’s standing in the business fraternity.

“The state’s industrialists have always been with us. Their presence today proved it all over again,” said a member of the Agarwal family.

The government had revoked AMRI’s licences on December 27, 2011, weeks after the fire in Annexe I, which remains sealed. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had branded AMRI a “killer industry”.

Last month, the fire department conducted an inspection of AMRI Dhakuria after keeping it waiting for months.

The presence of industries minister Partha Chatterjee at a mass wedding in March that was supported by the Emami Group had been interpreted as a thaw in the relationship between the government and the business families associated with AMRI.

The reconstitution of the AMRI board apparently prompted the government to ease its stand. The new board does not have 12 of the 14 former directors. Only Ravi Todi and Manish Goenka, sons of S.K. Todi and R.S. Goenka, have been retained.

“Re-opening of AMRI is in the benefit of the state. We are looking forward to it,” said Aditya Agarwal, a director of the Emami Group.