The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Union snag in debut
- Tech giant seeks 24x7 pledge for 100-acre campus

Infosys Technologies took a definite step on Monday towards setting up its 10th campus in Calcutta. But in doing so, it also identified the major stumbling block ' unionisation, with the potential to disrupt the 24x7 work cycle.

Infosys board member and chief financial officer T. V. Mohandas Pai, who spent the day checking out proposed sites and meeting the men who matter, said the final decision on the campus should be taken by the end of the month.

'We at Infosys believe that the next revolution in information technology (IT) will take place in Calcutta. It is the city to watch out for,' Pai told Metro, while travelling from the IT department office on Camac Street to Writers' Buildings.

There, after a 90-minute meeting with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the man largely responsible for the IT major's expansion plans, dwelt on the flip side ' unionisation, land rates and higher education infrastructure.

'We expressed our concern relating to unionism, but the chief minister assured us that his government was committed to growth in IT and ensuring uninterrupted operations in this sector,' said Pai.

'We provide services across the world and when people hear reports regarding the unionisation issue, they need assurance that we'll be working 24x7' I hope the chief minister will fully demonstrate at a critical time the truth of what he promised today,' Pai added.

Terming his trip a 'fact-finding mission', Pai made it clear that if things work out, Infosys would be looking at a Rs 250-crore investment, revolving around a 100-acre campus with special economic zone (SEZ) status.

The work force, going by the Infosys model, will be around 5,000 to begin with.

The 'prohibitive' land prices at Rajarhat also drew a frown from the Infosys man. 'I told the chief minister that land prices have to be competitive with other cities. Currently, Calcutta has an IT workforce of around 30,000 to 40,000, which can go up to three to four lakh,' said Pai.

The other matter raised in the chief minister's chamber was the gap in higher education infrastructure. 'Andhra Pradesh has 280 engineering colleges with 80,000 seats, but Bengal has only 60 engineering colleges with 18,000 seats. Creating similar educational infrastructure will be a major challenge for the state government,' said Pai.

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