June 7, 2009

Bengal IT dept shortlists 3 cos for Rs 5000 crore Kalyani project

Kolkata, June 05, 2009: Three companies--Mahindra Lifespace, Raheja group, and Paharpur Cooling Towers--have evinced interest in the Rs 5,000 crore Kalyani Infotech Park, following a tender floated by the West Bengal Electronics Industry Development Corporation Ltd (Webel), the state's nodal IT agency.

State IT department sources said,"The three shortlisted bidders are Mahindra Lifespace, a Mahindra & Mahindra group company, Paharpur Cooling Towers and K Raheja Corp, owners of Shoppers Stop.We hope to finalise the private partner from the shortlisted bidders by June."

The 100 acre IT park is expected to be operational in five years from the zero date.

Webel floated the tender on September 12, inviting expression of interest (EOI) for the proposed IT park at Kalyani to be developed in public-private partnership mode. The department received several bids but shortlisted three firms.

The state needs to augment its infrastructure, around 30 new IT companies have come to Bengal in the first half of this year till date, mainly export oriented, for which infrastructure would have to be upgraded, said Debesh Das, state IT minister.

At present, the total IT space available for the IT/ITES industry in the state was about 7-8 million square feet of office space and another 20 million square feet of office space was currently under construction dedicated exclusively for the IT industry, which will be added over the next 2-3 years' time.

“With the financial meltdown, the completion date might be delayed by another year or two,” said Das.

One of the main problems because of which many of the IT projects in Bengal had made little progress was inability to get land.

Wipro and Infosys signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with the state government last year but were yet to get possession of the 90-acre land (each) that they sought for. “The department is in the process of getting the land. It will take some time,” said Das. In 2007, DLF had announced it would develop a state-of-the art world class facility on 25 acres for IT/ITeS workspace. The project had got SEZ status, but the company has applied for a denotification and has been allowed to go forth with the IT projects sans SEZ status.

“Definitely infrastructure projects are going slow in the state because of the recession, but DLF's decision to denotify the Rajarhat IT SEZ project will not affect infrastructure scenario.Now the company will get more domestic clients in place of those involved in IT exports, a major requisite for SEZs. Both ways, we stand to gain. Sector V is not an SEZ, but it has attracted many a big players,” said Das.

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