Scrapped RIL farm project unviable, says Punjab

Punjab industries minister Manoranjan Kalia yesterday justified the state government's decision to terminate Reliance Industries Ltd's ambitious Rs5,000 crore 'farm-to-fork' project, saying the venture was "not economically viable" for the state.

He also claimed the company had not complied with the terms of the memorandum of understanding.

"The decision of terminating the RIL project was taken by the cabinet in the interest of state as the project was not economically viable for the state and even RIL did not take any initiative to launch the project, for which an MoU was signed in 2006 by the previous government," Kalia told reporters in Jalandhar.

Asked whether the termination of the project would not discourage other big industrial houses from investing in Punjab, Kalia replied in negative and said that the state government would welcome RIL if it brought any viable project in the state.

The Mukesh Ambani-controlled RIL's retail foray in Punjab seemed jinxed from the first. The objective was to build farm infrastructure and deliver the produce to dining tables. The government had agreed to allot over 1,000 acres to Reliance Industries at a concessional rate.

Reliance was to make an initial investment of Rs500 crore and later take it up to Rs3,000 crore for giving Punjab a state-of-the-art farm infrastructure that would connect it with global markets, increase farmers' income four-fold, provide 30,000 people with jobs and introduce crop diversification.