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Pricey for Infy, juicy for Tata

Calcutta, Sept. 10: The Tatas and another company have agreed to buy land in Rajarhat at prices dubbed “abnormally high” by Infosys and Wipro.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the country’s largest IT services company, and Pecon, a Calcutta-based infotech firm, are expected to pay the Bengal government Rs 1.5 crore an acre to set up special economic zones (SEZ) in Rajarhat.

The price is more than double the Rs 50-70 lakh per acre that Infosys and Wipro were prepared to fork out.

TCS needs 40 acres, while Pecon has sought 25 acres in New Town, government officials said.

“The two firms are the first to propose SEZs since Wipro set up one at Salt Lake Electronics City in 2004. TCS has already been allotted the land after it agreed to pay the specified rate,” IT minister Debesh Das said today.

The state’s screening committee on SEZs cleared the TCS project today. The board of approvals, under the Union commerce ministry, will take it up in Delhi on September 18. The Pecon plan will be considered by the state panel once the company gets possession of the land.

Infosys had offered Rs 50-70 lakh an acre. The firm, which requires 100 acres to set up operations in Bengal, claimed other states were ready to offer land at that price.

For Wipro, which wanted 40 acres, the government initially cut the price to Rs 1.81 crore an acre and then slashed it further to Rs 1.51 crore. But the company wrote back saying it would not pay more than Rs 60-70 lakh.

Real estate players such as DLF, Shapoorji Pallonji and Unitech have booked land in Rajarhat for SEZs, though the state finds similar plans by IT firms more attractive.

“SEZs being set up by IT companies are certainly more desirable. They occupy relatively less land and provide employment to more people,” said a senior official of the state commerce and industry department.

TCS has announced “aggressive growth plans” for Calcutta, buoyed by the 45 per cent growth last year in its Bengal operations against 40 per cent in the rest of the country.

Pecon has big plans, too. “We are paying Rs 1.5 crore per acre. The building plan for the 25,000sqft office we are planning has been sent to the Rajarhat municipality,” said Pecon managing director Mahesh Shah.

The Rs 20-crore project is expected to offer over 1,000 jobs.

The company, which mostly offers software services at present, intends to diversify into knowledge process outsourcing solutions and IT support services.

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