By Dhwani Pandya
Mumbai (Reuters) -India’s Reliance Industries plans to invest 200 billion Indian rupees ($2.40 billion) in the eastern state of West Bengal over next three years to expand its telecom, retail and energy businesses there, Chairman Mukesh Ambani said on Tuesday.
After having invested close to 450 billion rupees ($5.40 billion) in West Bengal, Reliance would be making additional investments for a rapid roll out of its 5G network, the expansion of retail stores and for setting up compressed biogas plants, Ambani said in a speech at the Bengal Global Business Summit.
Reliance’s 5G telecom network so far covers 98.8% of the population of the state, enabling the use of artificial intelligence, cloud computing and other disruptive technologies to modernise its economy, Ambani said.
The investment announcements also come as a boost for the state’s Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, the head of the Trinamool Congress party, who earlier this year called for a unified opposition to challenge Narendra Modi’s right-wing BJP party in the 2024 elections.
The energy-to-telecoms conglomerate plans to increase its retail stores in the state to 1,200 over next two years from around 1000 currently. Reliance has been investing in West Bengal over the past five years to grow its retail network and warehouses as well as connecting with small merchants.
The refining giant also plans to set up compressed bio gas plants in the state as parts of its strategy shift towards green and bio-energy, which will increase state farmers’ incomes, Ambani said.
($1 = 83.2440 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Dhwani Pandya, Editing by Louise Heavens and Sharon Singleton)