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A day on, IT heat on Karnataka
- Infosys rebuts land-grab charges

Bangalore, Oct. 21: Amid signals that N.R. Narayana Murthy will not change his decision to log out of the international airport consortium, the Karnataka government today came under fire from Infosys and other IT and biotech majors.

Murthy quit as chairman of Bangalore International Airport Ltd after H.D. Deve Gowda, head of ruling coalition partner Janata Dal (Secular), questioned his contribution to the project.

Today, Infosys issued a rebuttal of the former Prime Minister’s charges on another subject ' the company’s request for a plot to build an IT campus, which, Gowda had insinuated, was an attempt to grab land for subsequent real estate deals.

The IT industry closed ranks to indicate that none of its CEOs would now offer to guide the government on issues relating to infrastructure.

“The message is clear. The politicians do not want us to be involved in these matters because we do not allow them to interfere in our working or give in to pressure and accommodate people recommended by them,” a source said.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson of Biocon Ltd, added: “We will think twice before we get involved in any such ventures to support the government.”

Infosys explained it had sought 865 acres on Bangalore’s outskirts for a software development centre ' with a capacity to employ 25,000 people ' and for a housing complex complete with a school and hospital at an investment of Rs 1,500 crore.

“This will provide Infoscions with a better quality of life and avoid long commute. All these proposals have been' approved by high-level committees headed by various chief ministers of Karnataka,” the company said.

Pushed on the back foot, chief minister Dharam Singh said he would contact Murthy in the US and persuade him to withdraw his resignation. “I am confident that I will be able to sort out this issue amicably,” Singh said.

But an Infosys source said it is unlikely that the “sensitive” Murthy would change his mind.

Singh allayed fears that Murthy’s departure will delay the Rs 1,500-crore airport at Devenahalli, 30 km from here, scheduled for completion in early 2008. Sources connected to the project echoed this, but said Murthy could have helped push through expansion plans.

A belligerent JD (S), however, accused Murthy of “working towards destabilising the government.”

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