West Bengal needs to ‘re-prioritise’ land for industry: NASSCOMBy IANS
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
KOLKATA - Days after West Bengal scrapped an IT township project, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) Tuesday said the Left Front government needs to “re-prioritise” its policy of allocating land for industry and more importance should be given to information technology.
NASSCOM chairman (eastern region) V.V.R. Babu told mediapersons here: “May be, due to the logjam we are in, the government needs to re-prioritise its policies in land allotment.
“Priorities of allocation order are decided by the state government. There is enough land. There is lot of land earmarked in Rajarhat-Newtown area for real estate. The government has to realise that going for IT is better for economic development,” Babu said.
His comments come after the state government also cancelled land allotment to IT majors like Infosys and Wipro at Rajarhat in the city’s north eastern fringes following the Vedic Village land controversy.
Babu pointed out that for every direct job created in the IT sector, four jobs are created in the downstream industries.
Both Babu and NASSCOM president Som Mittal said the state government should try to allocate land to IT companies in and around Kolkata and not in the IT hubs at Durgapur in Burdwan district or Siliguri in Darjeeling district.
“We (IT companies) need land in Kolkata. We will go to Siliguri or Durgapur, but the first preference is Kolkata,” said Mittal.
“A minimum of 25 acres is needed for an SEZ. If less amount of land is allotted then the companies cannot set up SEZs. In that case they will go out of the state,” he said.
Mittal described the scrapping of the Rajarhat project and land allotment to the two companies as a ‘temporary setback’ to the state’s IT industry.
“It is an aberration. But it is good that the unfortunate thing has happened at a time when the IT industry is going through a slowdown.”
He hoped things will normalise in six to eight months. “There is need for trust and confidence in the minds of the industry. The centre and the state should be able to come up with a solution.”
“It will be really sad if after all the efforts of the state government to create an industry-friendly environment we have to look for land elsewhere,” he said.
Asked whether the government should acquire land or let the companies do it, Mittal said: “That’s a decision the government should take. I think it’s the responsibility of the government to do this. The government knows which is agricultural land and which is not,” he added.
The proposed IT township at Rajarhat near Salt Lake had become controversial in recent weeks following allegations that land sharks - allegedly backed by promoters of Vedic Realty - had been involved in acquisition of land there.
The state government depended on Vedic Realty, which set up a joint venture (Akash Nirman) with Webel, the state’s key IT agency, to get land for the 1,600-acre IT project.
Both Infosys and Wipro had sought 90 acres from the state government for their ventures. Even ITC Infotech was eyeing for a space in the IT hub.