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Infosys, Wipro plan SEZs in Bengal

April 25, 2008 17:19 IST
The West Bengal government unveiled a new model to allot 90 acres of subsidised plots each to software majors Infosys and Wipro near Rajarhat locality in the city at an unspecified rate.

As part of the new model, the government will acquire land through a public-private partnership, develop road, water, sewerage and power infrastructure on the plot free of cost and take a part of the developed facility free of cost against infrastructure development, for distribution to identified entities.

In the process, the Left Front government also ended years of speculations by Infosys to enter the state. The facility will get the status of a special economic zone (SEZ).

Along with Infosys, the government earmarked another 90 acres of land for Wipro, which already has an SEZ at Salt Lake Sector V in the city, said state Information Technology Minister Debesh Das.

As part of the first phase of the project, Infosys would invest Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion) for the multi-technology and multi-service facilities, and would employ about 5,000 people, S Gopalakrishnan, managing director and chief executive officer of the company, told reporters at Writers' Building.

According to sources, the market price of land given to Wipro and Infosys is between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 60 lakh per acre.

Initially, the government had offered land to Infosys at about Rs 2.16 crore (Rs 21.6 million) per acre. Later, it offered 100 acres at Rs 15-20 lakh per acre at Kalyani, 40 km north of Kolkata. Both the offers were, however, rejected by the company.

Wipro had sought around 50 acres near its existing facility at Salt Lake Sector V. The state government had offered land to Wipro at around Rs 1.50 crore (Rs 15 million) per acre at Rajarhat, but the company was only willing to pay Rs 60-65 lakh per acre.

"Over the next three-four years, we will invest Rs 500 crore in the facility. Instead of asking for land from the government every two-three years, they have given us it in a chunk," said Tamal Dasgupta, senior vice-president, Wipro. The land acquisition for the project was on.

The twin parcels are part of 600 acres of land which the government will get "free of cost" from the promoters of Webel Akask IT Link company, a 50:50 joint venture between Webel and Akash Nirman Private Ltd, which, in turn, is a joint venture between two city-based real estate developers -- Diamond Group and Vedic Realty.

This apart, Webel Akash IT Link Co was planning to develop an IT city (SEZ) in the area, with an estimated project cost of Rs 25,000 crore (Rs 250 billion) over the next five-seven years, said Raj Modi, promoter of Vedic Realty, which operates the Vedic Village resort in the same area.

A total of 1,200 acres would be acquired for the proposed IT city. The construction work for the project, subject to environment and SEZ clearances, was expected to begin by the year-end.

"The Kolkata office will be one of our largest facilities. It should be able to support any client for any service. Our expansion will depend on how fast we grow," said Gopalakrishnan.

Meanwhile, as part of its plans to recruit about 25,000 people this year, Infosys has offered jobs to about 900 students in the state. Till now, it has offered jobs to a total 18,000 students through campus recruitment across India.

Earlier, an Infosys top executive, through a media briefing, had cited the examples of other states where prime land are being offered at Rs 5 lakh-Rs 30 lakh an acre.Under the present Land Ceiling Act, a corporate entity cannot hold beyond 24.42 acre of land for private use. 

 However, both the companies will hold land under special exemptions from the Act, confirmed a former official from the state land reforms department.

BS Reporter in Kolkata