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3:11 pm - Sunday November 24, 5697

Capt Amarinder, Mukesh Ambani discuss mutual cooperation in telecom, data, retail, agriculture

Agencies, Mumbai Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani have agreed to strengthen cooperation across various sectors, including telecom and data networks, as well as retail, besides boosting agricultural productivity, food processing industry and manufacturing facilities in the state.

The Chief Minister met Mr Ambani soon after his arrival in Mumbai, where he is scheduled to address CII’s `Invest North’ meeting on Wednesday. The two had a one-to-one meeting, followed by delegation level talks, during which RIL made a detailed presentation on Jio telecom service, which it is seeking to expand in Punjab.

An official spokesperson said later that the meeting focused on augmenting RIL’s interests in Punjab, under the leadership of Capt Amarinder, who is keen to embark on sweeping transformational reforms to revive the state’s industry and economy.

The Chief Minister told Mr Ambani that his support would go a long way in providing the early impetus needed for this change. Agreeing with the Chief Minister that data was the future of mankind, Mr Ambani suggested setting up a dedicated team in Chandigarh to realise Captain Amarinder’s vision of deploying technology to generate employment.

Data is the new currency, said the RIL chairman, adding that the new development model needed to be centred around Data. Capt Amarinder identified upgradation of telecom infrastructure, in terms of both connectivity and broadband, as a key area in which Punjab was exploring opportunities.

His government would be happy to provide the requisite infrastructure for setting up towers and strengthening the telecom sector, the Chief Minister said. Pointing out that Data had emerged as the new Oil for the world, the Chief Minister said his government was keen to become a part of this “Fourth Industrial Revolution” and, to this end, was committed to fulfilling its promise of providing a free smart phone to youth in the age group of 18 to 35, together with free talk time/data for one year.

The rock bottom price in the telecom sector, consequent to the entry of Jio, makes this imminently possible for Punjab, he added. Capt Amarinder also expressed the hope that with its vast experience, RIL would be able to support the state in building a bouquet of offerings that can be built around the availability of high-speed data, as the state-of-the-art digital connectivity would open many vistas for providing value added services to Punjab.

Services such as digital education, agricultural extension services, governance & administration, tele-medicine, e-retail and GST compliance, along with entertainment, could help transform the State and its people as well as its agrarian economy to prepare them to face the challenges of a digital future, he added.

On retail services, Ambani said his company was keen to expand its Hoshiarpur plant, which currently employs 2000 people,. The Chief Minister said expansion and modernisation of facilities would be provided incentives under the state’s new industrial policy, which was not the case earlier.

Mr Ambani lauded the Chief Minister’s vision to embrace technology for the development of Punjab and showed interest in investing healthcare, agriculture and sports. Captain Amarinder spoke about the proposed Sports University which his government plans to set up in Patiala.

The RIL chairman sought cooperation from the state government in knowledge exchange for the integration of technology to benefit people and generate employment through projects that could be implemented in a short span of time.

On the issue of cooperation in the field of agriculture, the Chief Minister suggested that RIL should set up supply chains from farm to factory or to consumption centres, where thecompany could also play a pivotal role in view of its expertise in retailing farm products.

Punjab also sees immense potential in food processing sector, where the state offers both, the comfort of a high-quality supply and local and neighbourhood consumption or even exports, he added. Mr Ambani spoke about digitisation of the food chain process, with a mobile app to manage and handle all operations, including marketing, farmer inputs, storage and transportation.

It would be like having the Mandi in the pocket, he said. The Chief Minister evinced interest in boosting the state’s manufacturing capabilities by enabling assembly at its nearly ready-to-move industrial estates in a variety of areas like mobiles, electronic products, or expanding capacities at RIL’s Hoshiarpur Plant or setting up new plants.

Punjab is now surplus in power and can provide the company with one of the cheapest powers, besides other fiscal/non-fiscal concessions that cannot be easily matched by others, together with a reception and hospitality that Punjab has demonstrated for decades, he told Mr Ambani.

Posted in: Business

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