Amidst ongoing farmers’ protests, the corporate houses and small-scale industries are facing significant problems. Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has recently said that the protests are disturbing the economic activities in Delhi and its neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan resulting in a loss of Rs 27,000 crore. On the other hand, corporate houses like Reliance Industries and Adani Group have to clarify their stand on MSP and role in the Agriculture sector.
A number of Congress leaders and so-called farmer protestors have been using the names of ‘Ambani-Adani’ to spread the rumours that the central government has brought the new farm laws to benefit the large corporates. Despite the fact that the farmer organisations and political parties had themselves been demanding the same aspects covered in the new laws, there has been a constant effort by Congress and other opposition leaders and certain vested interests to defame certain corporates and malign the government.
The statement issued by Adani Group
In the statement, Adani Group said that there are factual inaccuracies in the statements given by several sections against them. In 2000, the Government of India under the National Policy on Bulk Handling, Storage and Transportation announced the project to build Silo Grain Storage infrastructure. In 2003, global tenders were invited, and the project was awarded to Adani Group in 2005. The project was commissioned in 2007 for a concession period of 20 years. It has to be noted that at that UPA was in power at the centre. The company had invested Rs.700 crore in the project.
Adani Group said it is important to understand that the project has successfully served from the last 13 years. “But some motivated elements with an agenda to hold back India’s development are misrepresenting facts stating that the Adani Group was gifted funds from the ruling government to set up this project.”
It further added that the company had increased its reach in Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar by winning tenders released by Food Corporation of India on a competitive bidding basis. Ten more companies are working with FCI in the field, and all projects come under the guidelines of the Ministry.
It added, “Most essentially facts are being misrepresented citing the strategic growth of our Ports 8- Logistics portfolio. For the record, Adani Agri Logistics Ltd. (AALL) was established in 2005 much earlier than the ruling government came into power. The Adani Group’s legacy stands testament to working towards national goals with multiple governments over the past 3 decades.”
Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd from Adani Enterprises Limited, the flagship company of the Adani Group acquired AALL in 2018-19. It was a part of APSEZ’s vision to become Ports to an end-to-end Logistics company in India. “We appeal to the people of this nation to see through this motivated campaign to defame the Adani Group and challenge India’s growth vision for political gains,” it added.
Statement by Reliance Industries
Reliance is facing major heat especially in Punjab where miscreants have damaged over 1500 JIO towers claiming Reliance Industries, the parent company of Jio, is responsible for bringing Agriculture Laws and the corporate will take away the lands of the farmers.
In its statement [PDF] Reliance said the company said that through its subsidiary Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL), they have filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court to intervene for government authorities bring a complete stop to the illegal acts of vandalism by miscreants. They said that these acts of violence and vandalism have endangered their employees’ lives and caused damage and disruption to the communication infrastructure in the two states.
Blaming the rivals, the company said that the vandalism had been instigated and aided by vested interests and our business rivals. “Taking advantage of the ongoing farmers’ agitation near the national capital, these vested interests have launched an incessant, malicious and motivated vilification campaign against Reliance, which has absolutely no basis in truth.” It has to be noted that Reliance also filed a complaint to TRAI for the same in December.
Reliance has claimed that the sole purpose of linking the name of Reliance to these laws is to harm businesses and damage its reputation. Reliance said that the company and any affiliate company including “Reliance Retail Limited (RRL), Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL), or any other affiliate of our parent company, i.e., Reliance Industries Limited have not done any “corporate” or “contract” farming in the past, and have absolutely no plans to enter this business.”
RIL clarified that they have never purchased any agricultural land, directly or indirectly in Punjab, Haryana or anywhere else in India for the purpose of “corporate” or “contract” farming and they do not have any plans to get involved in the business. The company further said that Reliance Retail Ltd retails products of all categories, including food grains and staples, fruits and vegetables, daily use items, etc. The company does not buy directly from farmers and never entered in long-term procurement contracts to gain an unfair advantage over farmers.
Reliance further added that they support Indian farmers. It said, “Reliance and its affiliates fully share and support the aspiration of Indian farmers to get a fair and profitable price on a predictable basis for what they produce with exemplary hard work, innovation and dedication.” It further added, “Far from hurting the interests of Indian farmers, the businesses of Reliance have actually benefited them.”
The company said that Jio’s fully 4G network had provided world-class connectivity to every single village in India at affordable price. In four years, it became India’s largest digital service provider with over 40 crore subscribers. Jio had 140 lakh Subscribers in Punjab and 94 lakh in Haryana by October 31, 2020. “Unlike the vested interests, Jio has not resorted to any coercive or unlawful measures to win over customers,” it added.
Jio further said that during Covid-19 its network helped the farmers, traders and consumers to participate in digital commerce and enabled professionals to work from home and students to study from home. “It has served people working to provide emergency, critical and life-saving services.”
Why did the corporate houses have to come forward and clarify their stand?
Since the protestors have reached the borders of Delhi, there have been reports that there are elements that are provoking protestors against corporate houses. They are claiming that by using the laws, these corporate houses will take away their land. However, the law clearly says that land cannot be included in the contract. From actor-cum-protestor Deep Sandhu to Katha Vachak Bhai Banta Singh Ji of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Delhi were seen spreading misinformation about the laws and provoking people against the corporate houses.
The Indian government has so far had six rounds of talks with the farmers. The seventh was scheduled for January 4, 2021.