When leisure means business

Plex pact with Carnival at Calcutta meet

By A.S.R.P. Mukesh in Calcutta
  • Published 20.08.16
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Chief minister Raghubar Das and chief secretary Rajbala Verma applaud as Carnival Group chairman Shrikant Bhasi (foreground) and state urban development department secretary AK Singh shake hands after signing the MoU in Calcutta on Friday. (Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya) nSee Page 6

Calcutta, Aug. 19: The Raghubar Das government today signed an MoU with Mumbai-headquartered Carnival Group for setting up as many as 75 plex-cum-recreation zones in 18 out of the state's 24 districts in a move that may overhaul how Jharkhandis spend their leisure time, at the Calcutta leg of Momentum Jharkhand, the state's ongoing sales pitch in metros to tap entrepreneurs before its global summit in Ranchi in February 2017.

State urban development department secretary A.K. Singh and Carnival Group chairman Shrikant Bhasi signed the pact wherein the company would develop a chain of recreation zones, each unit comprising a multiplex, food court, retail and gaming zones.

Focussing beyond mines and minerals that the state is traditionally known for, an upbeat chief minister Raghubar Das, who is steering Momentum Jharkhand, said: "There are many options in Jharkhand like entertainment, tourism, food processing, IT sectors with good investment potential. We are trying to address each sector in a phased manner to attract investment."

Das spoke for over 30 minutes about the "resurgent Jharkhand's potential and prospects", dismissing Maoism as a "finished ideology" before a gathering of around 500 delegates at The Oberoi Grand, including Carnival chairman Bhasi, ITC chief operating official Sanjiv Puri, Coal India Limited chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharya, Bandhan Bank managing director Chandrashekhar Ghosh, Ficci West Bengal State Council chairman Gaurav Swarup, Century Plyboards (India) managing director Sajjan Bhajanka and others.

Das came with his battery of top bureaucrats such as chief secretary Rajbala Verma, finance secretary Amit Khare, industries and mines secretary S.K. Barnwal, among others.

Today's MoU has the potential to be a game-changer in Jharkhand's under-developed leisure and lifestyle sector. Currently, the state barely has entertainment zones barring a clutch of multiplexes in cities Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bokaro and Dhanbad.

Carnival recently took over Glitz Cinema, a multiplex on Ranchi Main Road.

Under secretary of the state urban development department Rahul Kumar said the quantum of investment to be pumped in by Carnival Group was yet to be cleared but it could run to some thousands of crores given the number of proposed units.

"According to today's tie-up, Carnival will set up 75 theatres-cum-recreational zones in 18 districts of Jharkhand. They will let us know the specific number of theatres they propose in each district and other details," Kumar told this correspondent. "The state government will facilitate them land from an acre to 1.5 acres per project."

A representative of Carnival Group said they were currently busy with district surveys. "We will launch one-point leisure and lifestyle hangouts for youths and families," he said.

"In places, we may take up existing infrastructure such as spacious single-screens to remodel them and in other places we might go for Greenfield hubs. According to the MoU, we have two years from today to start work at the ground level," he said.

Today's Calcutta roadshow was preceded by similar events in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

In the evening, the chief minister and his A-team of officials met as many as 20 industry representatives from various sectors ranging from healthcare to education and infrastructure.

Among the companies that had representatives meet Das were Centuryply for a 2 million tonne capacity cement plant, Desun Hospital with 500-bed hospital proposal, Electro Steel with a promise of Rs 1,500 crore additional investments, RICE group, Prem Footwear, TCG Software Services and Pragyan International University that is coming up with an institute with a promised investment of Rs 100 crore in three years.