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E-Choupal eyes power, health & BPO
The Economic Times - 24 Jul 2006

Sreekala G Hyderabad: IN ITS next leg of expansion, ITC e-choupal is planning to leverage its infrastructure to offer a basket of new services in power, health, education and business process outsourcing (BPO) in rural India. ITC echoupal , which essentially began as a supply chain delivery mechanism for its agri-commodity business, is looking at an investment of Rs 5,000 crore over 5-7 years.

"We are in talks with industry majors for possible tie-ups so that we can offer services by utilising our rural connectivity and infrastructure. We are planning to launch pilot projects in power and BPO services next year," said ITC agri-business division chief executive S Sivakumar. He told ET that the company was looking at both power generation and distribution. "Our aim is to make use of alternative sources of energy like bio-waste , bio-mass , wind and solar. The power generated could also be used for our horticulture business, where maintaining cold chain is crucial . Apart from selling excess capacity to the grid, we are also exploring the possibility of offering consumer service in invoicing , collections and complaint redressal," he said.

The e-choupal typically acts as a facilitator between various goods and services and the end-user . For its initiatives, ITC is forging ties with an array of companies across sectors like healthcare, education, insurance , FMCG to expand its offerings. For instance, it has already tied up with the Apollo Hospitals group for healthcare services; a pilot is underway in Andhra Pradesh. "In the education services sector, we are planning to provide elearning facilities for classes VIII, IX and X," he added.

Also, it has tied up with LIC, ICICI and Tata AIG for life and IFFCO Tokyo and National Insurance for selling general insurance products.