| Union minister for communications and information technology, Pramod Mahajan and Bengal IT minister Manabendra Mukherjee at the signing of the MoU in Calcutta on Sunday to set up software parks at Durgapur and Kharagpur. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury.
Calcutta, Sept. 8: The West Bengal government today signed an agreement with the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) under which the latter will set up its units at Durgapur and Kharagpur.
The memorandum of understanding was signed by STPI director general S. N. Zindal, and state IT secretary D. P. Patra in the presence of Union communications and IT minister Pramod Mahajan and state IT minister Manabendra Mukherjee.
Speaking on the occasion, Mahajan said the MoU was “a small but firm step to bring the IT revolution to Bengal”. He added a time-bound programme was essential to ensure implementation of both projects.
Responding to this, Mukherjee assured him that the infrastructure for both STPIs would be completed by March next year. The government has already allotted three acres of land at Kharagpur and transferred Rs 1 crore as grant-in-aid to the STPI. The three-acre plot at Durgapur is awaiting approval from the Asansol Durgapur Development Authority.
“Though there are 37 STPIs, they are not distributed evenly throughout the country. It is our endeavour to set up a software park in every state, except the smaller north-eastern regions,” said Mahajan. “With the two units at Kharagpur and Durgapur, Bengal will move into the bracket of states with more than one unit.”
The state currently has one STP, which is under the West Bengal Electronics Industry Development Corporation.
Calcutta also offers excellent connectivity to investors who set up shop in the STPI units. The city now offers 580 mbps of bandwidth..
Infotech for all
Mahajan said despite the IT industry reaching the $ 5-billion mark last year, it still has a long way to go. By 2020, both hardware and software are expected to reach the $ 100-billion mark each. “The IT revolution is confined to the English-speaking segment of society. To bring in a total revolution, it is necessary that software is made available in regional languages to reach out to the masses,” he said. Today, despite the quantum leaps made by industry, it constitutes a mere 2 per cent of the global IT industry.
Mahajan added that industry has reached a saturation point, especially in the southern states.
Speaking on the cellular service providers, the minister said private players need to move into less prospective regions. Promising to deliver cellular coverage to the entire country by 2005, he added, “Every district headquarter will be connected by CellOne (BSNL’s mobile service) by March 2003. We will extend the WLL service to cover the tehsils.”