West Bengal government has offered to waive stamp duty and registration charges on all land to be purchased by the Reliance Retail Ltd for its proposed agri-retail business in the state.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding with the company, a copy of which is in possession of HT, the Bengal government has also offered complete exemption/waiver of market fees, licence fees etc for a "minimum period of 20 years."
Also, the Bengal government will grant 100 per cent exemption on electrical duty for the first five years, 50 per cent exemption for the first ten years of operation and review the arrangements thereafter.
The huge financial concessions being offered to the Reliance has already led several Left Front allies of the CPI(M) to go up in arms. The CPI, RSP and the Forward Bloc have decided to block the Reliance project during the crucial Left Front meting to be held next Monday. A section within the CPI(M) is also reportedly against giving so much concession to a private company.
According to the MOU, the Bengal government will initially offer vested or unutilised government land for the Reliance’s Agri-retail Business Project. If no government land is available, suitable alternative land will be acquired for the project. The total amount of land to be offered will be a whopping 1850 acres.
The three-tier retail chain to be constructed by the Reliance will consist of Rural Business Hubs (RBH) initially in 88 Block headquarters in all the districts except Kolkata. The RBHs will consist of warehouses, cold storages, soil testing laboratories, animal health care clinics etc.
The Reliance will also set up 20 Retail Outlets – two in each of the district head quarters other than Kolkata and 100 Distribution Centres in Siliguri, Malda, Sankrail, Assansol, Haldia and Kharagpur. Two Food and Vegetable Terminal Markets will also come up at Rajarhat and Dankuni.
The retailing will include perishables like fruits, vegetables and staples as well as consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, farm fuel products and even building materials and automobile products. To ensure quality of farm products, the company will supply seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to the farmers.
The MOU also mentions that in future, Reliance may establish captive farms, organic farms, green houses, floriculture, pisciculture, horticulture as well as animal husbandry and agronomical services.
In the MOU, the state government has promised to facilitate availability of all permits and licenses and designate a senior official for the purpose, who will act as the nodal officer. The district magistrates will act as nodal officers in the districts.