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Transfer of power in software hub

Software Technology Parks Calcutta will cease to exist as it hands over all administrative authority to Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), the central body under the ministry of information technology. Companies under the Calcutta agency will now be directly part of the 39-unit STPI network.

Director-general of STPI S.N. Jindal was in town on Tuesday to talk the transfer of power through with state IT secretary G.D. Gautama. “All delegated authority will be transferred to the STPI within one month,” confirmed senior officials of STPI.

Till now, all powers are distributed between Webel and STP Calcutta, which is a division of the nodal agency. The STP in Calcutta was set up in 1992 under the STP scheme of the Government of India and is not managed by the central body.

Explaining the switch, STPI officials said: “STPI provides the incubating infrastructure and acts as a co-ordinator between the government and the industry. The agency also supports entrepreneurs by providing various professional services like issuance of import certificates, green cards, import export code, export declarations, monitoring the operation of units and creating a conducive environment for the IT industry. None of these functions was performed by the STP in Calcutta.”

STPI officials also feel that despite the huge opportunity in the business process outsourcing (BPO) segment, Bengal continues to be starved of new investments. “The state needs to be marketed properly on a national level. It can now avail of the expertise of 39 sister units,” stressed STPI sources.

The STPI is all set to commission centres at Kharagpur and Durgapur by the end of the year, and two points of presence at Haldia and Siliguri by March 2004.

“The only points still under discussion regarding the switch are reimbursement of part of the investments made by STP Calcutta and re-appointment of its employees,” said an STPI official. Last year, STP Calcutta registered exports worth Rs 840 crore. The first quarter of 2003-04 has already seen a 35 per cent growth, which is expected to continue till March next year.

STPI built a high-speed data communication facility in Calcutta at an estimated cost of Rs 15 crore, in 2001. The gateway presently provides around 50 mbps of bandwidth to the eastern region and can be upgraded to 100 mbps. The earth station is part of the network of 39 STPI gateways across the country. “The functions that we will now be performing include registration of new units, issuance of letters of conduct and regulating import activities of companies under the scheme,” added STPI officials.

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