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IT firms will not boycott

Last updated on: September 22, 2005 16:57 IST
After months of bitter exchanges over this city's crumbling infrastructure, the Karnataka government and the IT industry on Thursday smoked the peace pipe, paving the way for the smooth conduct of the state's flagship tech event 'Bangalore 2005'.

The Chief Minister of Karnataka N Dharam Singh invited captains of the IT industry for a meeting and assured that various steps would be taken to improve infrastructure, including repairing ten arterial roads, building 15 flyovers and slapping an eight hour ban on truck movement in the city.

"There is no question of boycotting The government is organising the event for the benefit of the industry," Infosys chief mentor N R Narayana Murthy declared after a two-hour-long meeting with Singh.

The government also announced setting up of a six-member review committee, with equal representation of the industry and the administration to periodically monitor the progress of infrastructure projects to be initiated by it.

"The government is committed to improving infrastructure. We have political will to do this. The coalition government has already started work on the airport project. Work on metro rail will commence soon," Singh said, describing his deliberations with IT leaders as "cordial, fruitful and exchange of free and frank views."

This is the second meeting the government has held with the IT sector representatives since last week, after a section of the industry threatened to boycott the IT event.

When Murthy suggested that the government revive the Bangalore Agenda Task Force, a public-private initiative set up during the S M Krishna regime to look into the infrastructure needs of the city, Singh came up with an alternative to establish a 'review committee'.

Singh said the IT leaders have apprised the government of their problems and the government in turn has explained to them the steps it has taken to upgrade infrastructure, "which is good for Bangalore and the people of Karnataka."

Murthy expressed his gratitude to the government for convening the meeting which, he said, was held in a "cordial atmosphere".

Declaring that IT industry would not resort to boycott as the government was holding the mega event for the sake of the industry, he assured that "there will be smooth cooperation between the parties hereafter."

"This is the kind of environment we want to create to solve our problems so that Bangalore will continue to be a leading city in the country," he said.

Murthy said the government had promised to provide required facilities at the airport and the immigration check when British Airways and Nat West Airlines commence international flights to the city.

Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said, "I am very confident that we will urgently address the issues plaguing Bangalore. We cannot compromise the economic advantage Bangalore has. The city should be a showcase of India."

Deputy Chief Minister M P Prakash, Industries Minister P G R Sindhia and Cooperation Minister R V Deshapande, besides representatives of over 20 IT companies attended the meeting.

Responding to a query on the government demand for preference to locals in jobs in the IT sector, Murthy said, "We will create a climate of opportunities so that more Kannadigas take advantage of it."

Indirectly rejecting the possibility of providing any job reservation to Kannadigas, he said IT firms catered to requirements of global firms and their manpower should have competitive knowledge.

"Because obviously 97.5 per cent of customers come from USA, Japan and other nations.We are comparing ourselves to Shanghai. Hence we are very ambitious," Murthy said.

"Murthy has offered candid explanation. Every rule has an exception and we appreciate it," Prakash said responding to the technocrat's remarks.

Murthy further made it clear "our commitment is that Karnataka people are not at a disadvantage." At the meeting, where views were shared frankly, Murthy and other captains of the IT industry told the government that infrastructure facilities in the city were not good.

There was no politics involved in their protest, which was mainly to draw the attention of the government on the "bad infrastructure," they pointed out.

Public Works and Energy Minister H D Revanna, addressing a separate press meet, said the state had submitted a Rs 516 crore (Rs 5.16 billion) proposal to the Centre seeking assistance to upgrade 38 roads around the city.

The energy department was spending Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion) on system improvement projects in the city, he said.

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