The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Space scurry on tech turf

If the scramble for space is a measure of how busy an industry sector is, it's all-action time in the information technology (IT) arena of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's Bengal.

And the flurry finally has some figures to be gauged by. Over 1.72 crore sq ft of IT space will be developed in the city in the next three years, according to industry estimates.

This covers projects planned, announced and commissioned in the Salt Lake Electronics Complex (Saltlec), Rajarhat and Nonadanga, off EM Bypass.

The forecast figure might look enormous in the backdrop of Calcutta's business activity, but the growing interest in the city among major players in the knowledge economy has prompted the supply side to gear up.

The aim, of course, is to meet the projected demand for ready-to-use office space in the IT industry.

'More than 10 million people work in the Indian IT industry and 30 per cent of them, or 3 lakh, are from Bengal. If all of them come back to Calcutta, we should have additional 3 crore sq ft of space, as one person needs around 100 sq ft,' said Pradeep Chopra, honorary secretary, Bengal Chapter of Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India.

Developers ' both local and national ' are caught in a scurry for square feet to facilitate the growth run of companies local and global.

Over and above the 1.72 crore sq ft of space being developed by infrastructure majors like DLF, Unitech, Ascendas and Keepeland, companies like Wipro, Satyam, Tata Consultancy Services, Reliance Infotech, ITC Infotech and Cognizant Technology Solutions have plans to set up their own facilities off the Bypass.

Also, the government recently distributed land in Rajarhat to some city- based small and medium enterprises (SME).

'We were flooded with applications. The total demand for land was over 160 acres, but we could distribute only 21 acres keeping another nine acres to develop the necessary support infrastructure,' said G.D. Gautama, principal secretary, IT, stressing how demand for land is fast picking up.

This, according to Gautama, is a sure sign of how bright the industry's future is in Bengal.

Not everyone is as bullish. A section of developers questions whether the industry will be able to keep pace with the boom in IT infrastructure.

'Suddenly, we see a lot of projects coming up in the city. If all these projects materialise, we might have a situation of supply outstripping demand,' warned Rahul Saraf, busy developing Technopolis in Saltlec.

An IT-preneur translated Saraf's fear into figures: 'Going by the industry's standard arithmetic of 100 sq ft per person, it would require over 2,00,000 people per shift to fill up the space. Will the industry grow so fast'

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