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Business giants bring in investments worth over Rs 3.30L-crore in telecom space

Economic Times:  December, 2016

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government has received more than Rs 3.30 lakh crore, or 70%, of the proposed investments in less than two years of the commitments, led by country’s top business houses including Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries and Kumar Mangalam Birla-driven Aditya Birla Group.

“Rs 3.30 lakh crore has already come in with a large part in the telecom sector from the companies like Aditya Birla group and Reliance Industries. Companies have also made investments in the manufacturing segment,” Aruna Sundararajan, secretary at the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), told ET.

She however didn’t provide any break ups.

In July 2015, during the Digital India week, India’s top industrialists including Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani, Aditya Birla group’s Kumar Mangalam Birla, Wipro’s Azim Premji, Bharti Airtel's Sunil Mittal and Reliance group’s Anil Ambani had collectively pledged investments worth Rs 4.5 lakh crores over the next few years.

Sundararajan said that investments so far are mainly to expand telecom networks and accelerate local electronics production.

She added that the current investment pace could also open up as many as 1.5 crore potential job opportunities over the next five years.

Reliance Industries had committed the highest spend of Rs 2.50 lakh crore, followed by Bharti Group’s Sunil Mittal, at Rs 1 lakh crore, and Kumar Mangalam Birla, with nearly Rs 45,000 crore ($7 billion).

Oil-to-telecom conglomerate RIL’s outlay encompasses its telecom foray through Reliance Jio Infocomm which is involved in an aggressive mobile network rollout. Ambani has said that the company

An Idea Cellular spokesperson said the company has invested close to Rs 29,000 crore, after the Digital India pledge, that also included capital expenditure and spectrum buyouts.

Sunil Mittal, chairman of India’s top carrier Bharti Airtel, had committed a majority of investments for network rollouts in less-penetrated areas over a period of five years, and had added that the investments would also help in growing the electronics ecosystem.

In addition to the Rs3.30 lakh crore investment in telecom networks, investments in electronics manufacturing has seen a huge leg up segment, the top government official said, with more than 50 mobile device companies and accessories makers setting up shop.

Investments which were at Rs13,000 crore in 2014 have seen a 10-fold jump – to Rs1,32,000 crore at last count - from mid and large-sized companies, Sundararajan said.

“India has the potential to actually grow into a significant manufacturing destination,” the top MeitY official added.

Both, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, however, did not respond to ET’s query asking for investment breakup.