Patna, Feb. 22: After a sluggish start, the Nitish Kumar government is now acknowledging information technology (IT) as the much-needed propeller for growth.
A two-day national-level meet, e-Bihar — An Emerging IT Destination, held this week has acted as a much-delayed stepping stone for the advent of IT firms to the state.
Industry experts claim that though big IT giants are still a distant target for the state, a few small units are expected to start operations in Patna in the nearby future, may be some time after the general election.
The state government has given consent to the Bangalore-based Srishti Software Applications Private Limited and Essar Group’s Aegis BPO to start facilities at Biscomaun Bhavan. Educomp Solutions Limited and the city-based Uno Digital Private Limited are expected to submit their proposals for units at Biscomaun.
“The state seems to have made a good start but it needs to do a whole lot of branding. Till now, people did not perceive Bihar as an IT destination but the harbinger has arrived. The funds the state government plans to spend on e-governance projects are huge. I believe small companies involved in government applications would be interested to venture in this sector. Several other companies might be interested in opening their back-end offices as well but the government needs to continue the pace with which the overall support mechanism is being created for the IT industry here,” said B.V. Naidu, the former director of Software Technology Parks of India.
As Bihar aims at heralding the development of IT industry, the state and the private sector are creating necessary workspace for the new firms.
By June, the city-based Uno Digital Private Limited will be ready to construct a G+2 private IT park, iOn Digital Assessment Centre, in Patliputra industrial area. It would primarily aim at creating workspace for a small partnership unit with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) under its iOn Solutions. “We have entered into a service agreement with TCS for developing an iOn facility for 250-300 people here within three months. We are initially developing a G+2 structure, which would later be expanded to a G+7 facility to help fit more firms,” said Mrinal Singh, director, Uno Digital Private Limited.
Also, the science and technology department has written a letter to the building construction department to start construction on a G+8 IT tower near the Dakbungalow roundabout and complete it within one to one-and-a-half years. “The total workforce that would be accommodated in the proposed IT tower would be around 4,000,” said Atul Sinha, managing director, Bihar State Electronic Development Corporation Limited (Beltron), an undertaking of the IT department.
Apart from workspace, the state would take some steps to provide financial support to the IT industry. On February 18, the state cabinet decided to lease out free workspace for three years to the first five to 10 firms wishing to set up their units, provided each firm employs more than 100 people. The IT department has 60,000sqft workspace across the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th floors of Biscomaun Bhavan.
The government has created angel funds, a type of venture capital fund aimed at providing initial capital required for a start-up. “The special purpose vehicle would provide venture capital to the start-up firms to promote investment in the IT sector,” said Sinha.
Bihar IT Association treasurer P.K. Sinha said: “When these smaller units come here, the message of possibilities here would go out to the IT industry across the country.”