Calcutta, Aug. 21: Government officials today cited procedural delays in the finance department as one of the major reasons for the information technology department’s lack of progress towards meeting Mamata Banerjee’s target of setting up 25 IT hubs by 2016.
During a review meeting at Town Hall yesterday, IT minister Partha Chatterjee was pulled up for his department’s poor performance in creating adequate space for small and medium IT enterprises in the districts.
“It is true that there have been procedural delays. It is also a fact that the delay resulted in cost overruns,” an official said.
According to the plan drawn up by the IT department, each hub will come up at costs ranging from Rs 6 crore to Rs 12 crore. Each hub will have over 50,000sqft of space.
The agenda to create hubs and incubation centres was part of an ambitious new IT policy the state had formulated in 2012 to take the benefits of information technology outside Calcutta and facilitate inclusive growth.
The Telegraph has found that only three IT hubs in the districts — in Durgapur, Siliguri and Asansol — are nearing completion. According to the plan, each district is supposed to have at least one IT hub.
The state IT secretary refused comment.
Writers’ sources said the “constant tussle” between the finance ministry headed by Amit Mitra and the IT and industries ministries piloted by Chatterjee was another reason for the delay.
“Work on the IT hubs cannot be completed unless the finance department clears the tender process in cases where there are multiple bidders. Several times, the finance department had asked the IT department to float fresh tenders. This has resulted in the delay,” a source said.
According to him, the funds allocated to the IT department were not enough to complete the hubs.
The IT department was allocated Rs 102.75 crore and Rs 113.13 crore under the plan head in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 budgets, respectively.
A section of officials, however, said the entire blame could not be passed on to the finance department as the IT department was also “slow” in initiating the projects.
“Clearly, the IT department has been slow in implementing the projects as it has failed to even start the tender process in some places,” a source said.
While the prod from the chief minister is expected to fast-track the IT parks, there are doubts over the feasibility of these commercial spaces getting occupants at a time the state’s showpiece IT township in Salt Lake has about 30 lakh sqft lying idle.