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Enter, Saltlec’s big brother
- MoU signed on plot handover, two-year gestation for IT habitat

Demand: more value-added space for information technology (IT) in town.

Supply: An IT hub, bigger and better than the Salt Lake Electronics Complex (Saltlec).

If Mumbai can have Mindspace, Calcutta will soon have its own IT habitat, an integrated complex on 210 acres, offering “work, live and play” facilities for IT professionals.

Recognising the need to offer something more than physical infrastructure to IT and IT-Enabled Services (ITES) companies, the West Bengal government has decided to set up an IT hub in Rajarhat, bigger than the 155-acre Saltlec.

The plot was transferred on Monday in chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s office, with an MoU being signed between S.K. Mitra, managing director, Webel, and Sumantra Chaudhuri, managing director, Hidco.

“Land for IT in Salt Lake’s Sector V is exhausted. Many large companies now want land in Bengal and the demand can be met with the complex at Rajarhat New Town,” announced IT minister Manabendra Mukherjee. “Investors applying for land in the IT sector can now get land within a week,” he went on to claim.

The IT habitat — around 3.5 km from Saltlec — is being viewed as a natural extension of the existing IT epicentre. Sufficient demand from the industry — for start-up and expansion — will make the project viable, assured G.D. Gautama, principal secretary, department of IT.

In the run-up to the IT habitat, a Sunrise City on 50 acres will come up at Nonadanga, off the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, to give a boost to the burgeoning industry.

“There is an urgent need to create new infrastructure for the IT and ITES companies to meet our target of generating 15 per cent of the country’s export revenue by 2010 (which now stands at less than 5 per cent),” said Gautama.

Along with an office complex, the IT habitat will house residential buildings, shopping malls and other entertainment facilities, on the lines of Mindspace in Mumbai’s Malad area.

“We expect the physical transfer of the land to be complete within the next two months,” said Mitra of Webel.

The responsibility of developing the facility will lie with Webel, the government’s nodal IT agency. To be executed in association with a private partner, the project will be completed in 18 to 24 months.

“Over the next two to three months, we will select a private partner and work out the other modalities,” added Mitra.

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