Kolkata: In a bid to salvage credibility with potential investors, West Bengal’s chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Thursday said his government would offer 45 acres each to Infosys Technologies Ltd and Wipro Ltd, which were earlier allotted 90 acres apiece in a now aborted information technology (IT) township on the outskirts of Kolkata.
Promised land: A February photo of Infospace, Rajarhat, a 28 sq. km township on the outskirts of Kolkata. Indranil Bhoumik / Mint
The state government would allot plots in Rajarhat, a 28 sq. km township under development on the eastern fringes of Kolkata, Bhattacharjee said, addressing the media for the first time since arson at the scrapped IT township showed forcible land acquisition by a private real estate developer, which had partnered the state’s IT department for the project.
A number of IT companies have been offered space at Rajarhat in the past, but almost all of them have spurned the state government’s offer because the price that it asked for was steep—around Rs2.16 crore an acre.
The state government didn’t formally announce the price at which it had offered land to Infosys and Wipro in April last year, but according to some state government officials, who did not want to be identified, the two companies had agreed to pay Rs50-70 lakh an acre.
“The price of land at Rajarhat would be determined through discussion with the companies,” Bhattacharjee said. “We are going to get in touch with them (Infosys and Wipro) soon.”
These two companies could generate up to 16,000 jobs, added Bhattacharjee, and so the state government was willing to offer a concession on the ruling market rate for land at Rajarhat.
Infosys and Wipro had said in April last year that they would initially hire some 5,000 people each at their new development centres in Kolkata.
After the state government announced on 7 September that the proposed IT township was being scrapped, Infosys had said it wouldn’t consider West Bengal for starting a development centre in the “foreseeable future”, and Wipro said it had enough headroom at its current facility in the city to expand.
Housing Infrastructure Development Corp.—an arm of the West Bengal government—owns most of the Rajarhat township, so it won’t need to acquire land. “If they want, we could transfer the land immediately,” Bhattacharjee said.
Asked if the two companies would agree to the state’s government new offer, he said he was confident that they would. “I have already had a preliminary discussion with them.”
“We are glad to hear that the West Bengal government has expressed its commitment towards the growth of the IT industry in the state,” Wipro’s chief information officer Laxman Badiga said in a statement. “We look forward to hearing from them officially.”
Infosys, however, said the project is on hold. “When the economic situation improves, and if there is a proposal from the (state) government, we will review it,” Infosys said in a statement.