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Rediff.com  » Business » Bengal brings Reliance Fresh juggernaut to halt

Bengal brings Reliance Fresh juggernaut to halt

April 13, 2007 16:14 IST

The roll out of Reliance Retail's fresh food format stores has hit a wall in West Bengal, where a key constituent of the state government is against big businesses entering agriculture and allied fields.

Shortly after two key ministers in the Left Front government made public their opposition to Reliance's entry into the agri-marketing business, the Forward Bloc has stoutly rejected the company's proposal to set up a joint venture with the state apparatus for sourcing agri products.

The party, which is a constituent of the Left Front government, also controls state agriculture marketing board without whose cooperation the company cannot go ahead with its farm-to-fork project.

"We cannot bring disaster to small traders by signing the agreement," said Forward Bloc secretary Ashoke Ghosh, who fears

allowing Reliance would create a monopoly situation.

Ghosh's colleague and chairman of the state Marketing Board Naren Chatterjee concurred.

"In principle, FB is opposed to the entry of Foreign Direct Investment and big industrial groups in the agricultural sector," he told PTI. Chatterjee, who has been speaking against the Rs 2,000 crore project by Reliance, said that the board has rejected the company's proposal of a JV with the state government for retail marketing.

Chatterjee also said that he has spoken to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and claimed his support in the matter.

Asked about the status of the application by Reliance for licence for starting operation of its Reliance Fresh stores in the state, Chatterjee said even if they are allowed, they had to abide by a number of conditions.

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