Kolkata: Although the West Bengal government has committed to provide land to Infosys Technologies Ltd and Wipro Ltd at a proposed information technology (IT) township near Kolkata, it is currently not in a position to honour its promise.
However, the state’s IT minister Debesh Das claimed the government was ready to allot 90 acres each to Infosys and Wipro. “If they want, we can allot 180 acres of contiguous land immediately,” he said.
Vedic Realty Pvt. Ltd, which is developing the township, 30km from Kolkata, in partnership with another real estate firm and the state government, says it needs at least two more months to secure the land that could then be allotted to Infosys and Wipro.
Fighting for rights: The scene after protests against forcible acquisition of land at Vedic Village in West Bengal. The incident exposed a case of alleged land grab in the village. Indranil Bhoumik / Mint
The government signed an agreement with the two companies on 24 April last year to allot the land in the autumn of 2008. The allotment has already been delayed by about a year.
“We have so far managed to acquire about 500 acres only in small parcels scattered over a large area,” said Raj K. Modi, managing director of Vedic Realty. “It is not contiguous.”
What’s more, Vedic Realty has not yet secured the titles of a large part of the land it has bought. Mutation, or formal transfer of ownership, is yet to take place and could be delayed if previous owners start squabbling over the sales, Modi said.
On Sunday, a skirmish left one person dead and a substantial part of the already built 110-acre Vedic Village resort burnt.
The incident also exposed a case of alleged forcible land grab and could scupper the 1,200-acre IT township in the area.
Infosys has put its proposed development centre in Kolkata on hold, chief executive officer and managing director S. Gopalakrishnan said. “We will take a decision on the investment once the impact of global recession is over,” he said in an email.
Wipro said in a statement that it would conduct “due diligence” after land is allotted to it. “This particular case is for the state to resolve,” said Laxman K. Badiga, Wipro’s chief information officer.
The civic infrastructure at the proposed township, too, is far from ready. Under the agreement with Vedic Realty and the Diamond group—the two private developers of the township—the state government was to receive 600 acres of land for free, and in return, build the civic infrastructure and a 7km road to connect the township with Kolkata.
But according to Modi, only “preliminary surveys” for the proposed road have been conducted. IT minister Das, however, said: “Infosys and Wipro would need at least two years to build their development centres. We will be able to prepare the civic infrastructure, including the proposed road, by the time their development centres are ready.”
Meanwhile, West Bengal’s land and land reforms department, which in 2003 had seized 44 acres from Vedic Realty and its sister concerns for allegedly flouting land ceiling laws, is again planning to take legal action against the developers of the township, Rezzak Mollah, the state’s land and land reforms minister, said on Wednesday.