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Gurgaon giant steps in with super city

Calcutta, Aug. 12: The real estate company that transformed Gurgaon on the outskirts of Delhi into one of the hippest towns in the country is keen to develop a city off Calcutta.

The group, which is setting up the state’s biggest information technology park at Rajarhat in association with the government’s nodal infotech agency, Webel, is toying with the idea of an integrated city on Calcutta’s eastern fringes.

“We have just submitted our expression of interest with the government. We are really keen on rolling out a project, which will include commercial, residential and recreational facilities on more than 100 acres. The investment would not be less than Rs 1,000 crore,” said Yogesh Verma, the director of DLF Infocity Developers.

Verma was in the city today for the launch of the IT park project on a 10-acre plot at Rajarhat. Information technology minister Manab Mukherjee and housing minister Goutam Deb were present at the formal inauguration of construction at the site.

“The Calcutta venture is our first project outside north India. The perception about Calcutta is changing very fast and that’s why we are here,” Verma said.

The result of roadshows, organised across the country under Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s leadership, seems to be streaming in with industry’s interest in the state showing signs of an upward swing.

“The IT park, with around 1.3 million square feet, will be the biggest such facility developed at one go. By April 1, 2005, we will complete 300,000 square feet and the Rs 280-crore project will be ready in 24 months,” Verma said.

The company has sealed deals with some “major clients”, who will start operating from the complex by April 2005. The growth of IT and IT-enabled services industry will make the project viable, Verma said.

Reiterating the “growth” factor, Webel managing director S.K. Mitra said export earnings from the Software Technology Park in Sector V, Salt Lake, surged 130 per cent in the first quarter in comparison with the same period last year. “Not just the big companies, even smaller outfits are growing. We have reasons to believe that they are drawing up expansion plans,” Mitra added.

The Rs 1,000-crore DLF Group is one of the leading real estate developers in the country and the company has created over 2.5 million sq ft of commercial space. DLF City, the 3,000-acre township in Gurgaon is its flagship project. DLF Cyberciti, also in Gurgaon, is in the final phase.

“With saturation in cities like Bangalore and Mumbai, our client companies are looking at tier-II cities and that’s why we are exploring opportunities outside north India. We have started marketing the Calcutta project and the feedback is satisfying,” said Verma.

Designed by eminent architect Hafeez Contractor, the IT park will have three towers and a landscaped garden at the centre. Besides central air-conditioning with air-handling units on each floor, the facilities at the complex will include 100 per cent power back-up, a modern fire detection and suppression system, 24-hour security and ample parking space.

Verma declined to mention the exact lease rent the company would charge occupants but said the average rate would be between Rs 30 and Rs 35 a sq ft. Industry’s interest in Calcutta, Verma said, has prompted the company to propose the integrated city.

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