The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tinsel town targets infotech turf

Tinsel town is ready to share the spotlight with information technology (IT) in the city’s new development hub.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government has decided “in principle” to hand over 40 acres at Nonadanga, off the EM Bypass, to Sahara India for developing eastern India’s first film city, on the lines of the Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad.

The plot forms a part of the 200-acre area under the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) initially earmarked exclusively for an IT complex.

The CMDA board meets on Thursday to take the “final policy decision” on handing over the land to Sahara. If green-lighted, this will be the biggest plot of land that the state government would have sold to any single private agency.

“We want the plot for a full-fledged film city. We like the location and are hopeful that things will fall into place,” said filmstar Prosenjit Chatterjee, senior vice president (east), Sahara India TV Network. The Sahara brass has been briefing chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee regularly about this project. Sahara chief Subrata Roy had met Bhattacharjee a couple of months ago and dwelt on his tinsel-town dream, spread over 100 acres.

The search for the suitable plot started soon after with the file moving from the chief minister’s office to state urban development and municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya’s department. “We realised that we did not have 100 acres of free land in and around the city,” CMDA chief executive officer Alapan Bandyopadhyay said on Wednesday. “We, therefore, have set our sights on this 40-acre plot at Nonadanga,” he added.

Some points, however, remain to be ironed out. “The state government needs to get details of the project before taking the final decision,” state urban development secretary K.S. Rajendrakumar said, prior to the crucial meeting. “After all, the government has some guidelines for giving out land to private developers.”

Bandyopadhyay admitted that the state government or the CMDA was yet to get the details of the Sahara film city plans. “We have only heard verbally that the land is being taken for developing a film city and the concept appeals to us,” he said. “But there are some other factors that both Sahara and the state government will have to keep in mind.”

The most important among them is the price factor, which has not yet been finalised by the CMDA, say officials. “We are in the process of fixing a rate at which the 40-acre plot is going to be sold,” said Bandyopadhyay.

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