The Telegraph
Saturday , March 15 , 2014
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Emami comeback with culture & cure

The Emami Group that co-owns fire-ravaged AMRI Dhakuria has lined up a cultural extravaganza coinciding with the government handing it five acres in New Town to build a hospital, the company’s comeback project in Bengal after two trying years.

“The state government formally handed a five-acre plot in Rajarhat to AMRI earlier this week to set up a 500-bed hospital,” Aditya Agarwal, a director of the Emami Group, told Metro on Friday.

“Now that the land has been physically handed over to us, we are planning to make the hospital operational in 30 months,” Agarwal said.

The confirmation ended speculation that the Rs 7,000-crore company, which has businesses ranging from cosmetics to real estate, would shun Bengal.

As if on cue, the Emami Cultural Fiesta, in association with t2, has been lined up at Kala Mandir from March 18, starting with an evening of qawwali featuring the Sabri Brothers.

Next up is Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman with Alyque Padamsee and Sabira Merchant, to be staged on successive days. The culture feast ends with a jugalbandi by Kathak maestro Birju Maharaj and percussionist Sivamani on April 3.

Emami intends holding four cultural events every year. “This will definitely boost our brand image,” Agarwal said.

“It’s the responsibility of industry to ensure that the art and culture of a state are preserved and promoted,” added his father R. S. Agarwal, joint chairman of the group.

Cut from culture to cure. The plot in Rajarhat-New Town had been allotted to AMRI Hospitals before the 2011 Assembly elections that brought Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress to power.

In December that year, 91 people died in a fire at AMRI Dhakuria and with it disappeared any chance of the promoters getting possession of the land in a hurry.

Now, construction of the 500-bed hospital and a nursing college to go with it is scheduled to start in 12 to 18 months. The health care facility will have five lakh square feet of space, although the number of floors hasn’t been finalised.

Emami is also planning to add beds to two of its hospitals, including Vision Care in Mukundapur, off the Bypass. “Once the indoor units at Dhakuria reopen (permission hasn’t been granted yet), we will convert the Mukundapur facility into a super-speciality unit for women and child care,” Aditya Agarwal said.

Annexe II of the Dhakuria unit will house nuclear medicine and neuro-surgery facilities. Forty beds at the unit will be for patients undergoing neuro-surgery, officials said.

The families of R.S. Agarwal and R.S. Goenka, which jointly own the Emami Group, hold a 66 per cent stake in AMRI. Co-owner S.K. Todi’s Shrachi Group holds a little over 32 per cent. Eight of the AMRI directors had been arrested immediately after the fire on December 9, 2011. They are all out on bail after spending varying periods in jail. The AMRI board has since been reconstituted, excluding 12 of the 14 former directors. AMRI Dhakuria reopened its outpatient department early this year.

Emami will also invest Rs 500 crore in a cement-grinding unit in Purulia’s Raghunathpur, for which it has got 70 acres from the government.