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Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee goes on IT wooing spree

After months of despair and the shock of the IT township project being shelved there’s a glimmer of hope on the industrial front. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has offered 45 acres each to Infosys and Wipro in Rajarhat New Town and will personally negotiate the price of the land with the two IT giants.

Infosys and Wipro were supposed to get 90 acres each in the now uncertain IT township next to the controversy-ridden Vedic Village compound.

“Wipro has a presence in the state. Infosys is eager to come. We have been in touch with the IT giants for a long time. I have had talks with Wipro chairman Ajim Premji. We want the companies to take possession of the land immediately,” the chief minister told reporters on Thursday.

Unlike earlier occasions, the government does not need to acquire or purchase the land from farmers. The 90 acres offered by Bhattacharjee is in the possession of Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco), free from all encumbrances, and well within the boundaries of Rajarhat New Town. What comes as a bonus to these IT companies is the upcoming social infrastructure in New Town — from roads to swanky residential buildings. Nasscom president Som Mittal dubbed it a very welcome development.

“Forty five acres is a large piece of land and I am sure the industry will welcome it as 25 acres is the minimum requirement for setting up an IT SEZ. The earlier offer of close to 100 acres each must have been made by the government to attract these companies to the state,” Mittal said. Wipro, too, sounded positive.

“We are glad to hear that the West Bengal government has expressed its commitment towards the growth of the IT industry in the state. We look forward to hearing from them officially on this matter,” said Laxman Badiga, chief information officer, Wipro Technologies.

However, Infosys did not sound too enthusiastic. “Our position remains the same as before. The project is on hold because of the global downturn. We will have a look at it when the market improves,” an Infosys spokesperson said on Thursday. But that couldn’t dampen the chief minister’s optimism about the investments and the projected job potential. “The IT firms had submitted a project plan that would generate 1,600 IT jobs. It will come as a boost to New Town and also reassure IT professionals in the state,” he said.

It was also the first time Bhattacharjee spoke up about the Vedic muddle in relation to the IT township disappointment. “Initially we had planned a 200-acre IT township close to Vedic Village in Rajarhat. We got in touch with a private company and asked them to purchase the land so that the government can then buy it out. We had no idea of the criminal activities going on there,” he said.

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