New Delhi: The West Bengal government is looking at more than doubling exports from the information technology (IT) sector by 2010 from about Rs 3,500 crore now.
The total IT exports from the country in 2006-07 stood at around $32 billion , spread across 46 software technology parks (STPIs) that provide tax incentives for export-related businesses. Seven cities accounted for 95% of such total exports, of which Kolkata contributed just 2%.
West Bengal has more than 250 companies registered under STPIs and currently employs some 50,000 software professionals. The state government aims to create an additional 200,000 jobs in the sector by 2010, in part because of its proximity to academic institutions, such as the Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur, and partly because it is making space available to tech companies to set up and expand operations.
Siddharth, secretary, department of information technology and biotechnology, West Bengal
“Our aim is to ensure that Bengal contributes between 15% and 20% of the total IT revenues in India by 2010 and we are targeting a 50% growth in the IT industry this year, from 42% last year,” said Siddharth, the secretary of the state’s department of information technology and biotechnology, who uses just one name.
“We are in talks with most leading tech firms who have requested for land in the state either to expand their current operations or to set up shop here.”
He pointed out that West Bengal has around 20 million sq. ft of office space under construction, an additional 20-30 million sq. ft that is proposed for satellite hubs and 8-10 special economic zones proposals from various tech companies.
Bangalore-based Wipro Technologies Ltd, which currently operates across 20 acres of land in the state, “has asked the government for an additional 40-50 acres of land to set up its own SEZ. TCS (Tata Consultancy Services Ltd) has asked us for 40 acres to set up its own SEZ and Infosys (Infosys Technologies Ltd) has asked us for 100 acres of land,” saidSiddharth.
Wipro has 16 acres of land in an SEZ in the state and employs around 4,000 people. The company has so far invested around Rs120 crore on its facilities in the state and confirmed that it has applied for 50 acres from the stategovernment.
“We are definitely looking for expansion in West Bengal and are waiting for the government to allot the land to us,” said Laxman Badiga, chief information officer at Wipro.
TCS, India’s largest software exporter, currently employs around 7,000 in eastern India, including in West Bengal and Orissa, and is looking to expand its base in West Bengal. “We are waiting for the government to allot the land to us,” said a company official. According to the government, TCS wants to increase its workforce in West Bengal to 20,000 by 2010. The company,however, did not confirm that number.
“We have requested the West Bengal government for 100 acres that can employ around 5,000 people, but that will take another two years to set up,” said a senior Infosys official who didn’t want his name used.
Siddharth said the government was in discussions with Infosys and the company will have land “very soon.”
Other firms that are keen to increase their footprint in the state are back-office firm IBM Daksh, software firms Accenture, HCL Technologies Ltd, Cognizant Ltd and Genpact Ltd.
Cognizant employs 4,000 in Kolkata and is in the process of constructing its second fully owned complex in 20 acres of SEZ land in Bantala, investing around Rs188 crore.
“Kolkata has proximity to renowned academic institutions, a resultant high quality person-power and availability of space, In the first phase of this new techno-complex, we will add over 500,000 sq. ft of office space through 2008 that can accommodate about 4,000 new employees,” said Siddhartha Mukherjee, vice-president and head of Kolkata operations for Cognizant.
West Bengal has identified five potential IT destinations in the state—Durgapur, Siliguri, Kolkata, Kharagpur and Haldia. Of these, the expressions of interest for setting up special economic zones at Durpapur and Siliguri have already been cleared forconstruction.