Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, Mukesh Ambani agree to strengthen cooperation across sectors

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

The chief minister met 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-on-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 Captain Amarinder, who is keen to embark on sweeping transformational reforms to revive the state’s industry and economy. The Chief Minister told 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, Ambani suggested the new development model needed to be centred around data .

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.

Captain 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.

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 the company 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, Captain Amarinder added.

Ambani spoke about digitization 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.

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 Ambani.