Logging into the volumes-over-size mantra, the Bengal government is finally creating the necessary infrastructure for smaller outfits.
Steered by the realisation that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the major growth drivers for the state's information technology (IT) industry, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government is busy creating proper office space and improving telecommunication links, providing necessary social amenities and augmenting physical infrastructure for such units.
To facilitate their growth, state IT minister Manab Mukherjee announced on Wednesday that the government was ready with the 'Knowledge Corridor Phase I project'. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had unveiled the project during Infocom 2004 last December.
'This project is the first of its kind. We have earmarked 30 acres for the SME segment in Rajarhat and we intend to hand over all 64 plots as soon as possible,' said Mukherjee.
Rough estimates ' based on land-demand applications piled up at the IT department ' suggest there is a demand for over 145 acres in the state.
With a space jam in Sector V and the IT parks still in the works, the Rajarhat plots open vital avenues for companies eyeing expansion.
According to the Knowledge Corridor Phase I plan, applications for land will be invited from existing IT and ITES companies in the city for the three different types of plots ' one acre, half-acre and quarter-acre.
In order to stop any transfer of property in the area, the government will allot land only to companies keen on building their own facilities. 'We will not permit renting out of the space,' added Mukherjee.
After evaluating the outfits' past performance and future requirements, the government will distribute the plots, priced at Rs 2.5 lakh per cottah.
'We will develop a common car-parking facility and create the necessary infrastructure. It will be a planned complex,' said the minister.
That the Knowledge Corridor is focused on facilitating the growth of the SME segment of the knowledge economy was made clear by the minister. 'This segment is important, as it generates the volume,' stressed Mukherjee.
Rough estimates suggest that of Rs 1,780 crore of Bengal's export earnings in the IT and ITES industry in 2003-04, around 50 per cent was contributed by the smaller and fledgling outfits. Around 50 per cent of the 24,000 people, employed in over 210 companies, work with the SMEs.
'The number of bigger companies in the city is on the rise and we expect a few more to set up base in Calcutta. Since these companies off-load some of their work to smaller outfits, we want to prepare the SME sector to take on those assignments,' explained Mukherjee.