Aditya Agarwal after the Emami AGM on Wednesday. (Kishor Roy Chowdhury)
Rs 500cr hospital
Cement grinding unit
The Emami Group has scotched speculation about shunning Bengal by announcing a Rs 500-crore hospital in New Town and a cement unit in Bankura or Purulia, investment proposals it hopes will make getting permission to reopen AMRI Dhakuria easier.
“A new hospital is coming up in Rajarhat. We are also working on a cement-grinding plant and have two locations in mind. It has not been finalised yet. In all, we are planning to invest Rs 1,000 crore over 2-3 years,” Aditya Agarwal, non-executive director of Emami, said on the sidelines of the company’s 30th annual general meeting.
Aditya, son of Emami patriarch R.S. Agarwal, dismissed talk about the company planning to move its headquarters out of Calcutta. “We were born here, not only the company but also the promoters of the group. Our factories are located in Bengal. We have 700 people working in our head office. So we do not have any plans to move,” he said.
Emami, founded by R.S. Agarwal and his friend R.S. Goenka, and S.K. Todi’s Shrachi Group co-own AMRI Dhakuria, which has been shut since a fire in Annexe 1 on December 9, 2011, claimed 91 lives.
Eight of the AMRI directors had been arrested immediately after the fire. They are all out on bail after spending varying periods in jail.
Sources said not being able to reopen the hospital despite reconstituting the board and taking other steps was hurting the company. The co-owners of AMRI have spent Rs 20 crore on renovating the main unit and Annexe II, both unaffected by the fire.
“We have been requesting the government to allow us to open the two buildings that were not affected by the fire. We don’t want to link future investment with that but the government’s permission to reopen AMRI Dhakuria is very important for us,” a senior official of the company said.
Emami, whose businesses span FMCG, paper, cement and health care, has suggested two locations — Mejia in Bankura or Purulia — to the government for its proposed cement-grinding unit.
Agarwal said clinker would be sourced from Chhattisgarh, where the company intends setting up an integrated cement plant with an investment of Rs 2,500 crore. If everything goes according to plan, the cement-grinding plant will become operational in two years, he said.
The proposed site for the new hospital is a five-acre plot in New Town that the co-owners of AMRI had purchased for nearly Rs 20 crore before the 2011 Assembly elections that brought Mamata Banerjee to power.
Sources said the hospital would have 450 beds with a nursing college adjacent to it.
The company is in talks with two architecture firms, one in Singapore and the other in the US, for the hospital’s design. “We are in the process of seeking permissions from the government for possession of land, registration and other legal formalities,” Aditya Agarwal told Metro.
Construction won’t start before at least a year, by which time the company hopes the government will pave the way for AMRI Dhakuria to reopen, sources said.
There have been signs that the government has softened its stance on AMRI but the green signal to reopen the 180-bed main unit hasn’t come.
The fire department conducted an inspection of the medical facility last month and has since submitted its report to the government. Sources said the department hasn’t recommended any additional change.
A no-objection certificate from the fire department could pave the way for the health department and the CMC to do likewise.