The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Reality bites on tech turf

Seven months have passed since Wipro and Infosys sent in their requests to the state government for detailed maps of the area around Vedic Village where they had been promised plots.

But the Bangalore-headquartered IT majors are yet to receive maps of the area, billed as the state’s next IT hub, from the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government.

This belies the growing bluster about how both Wipro and Infosys have been all but locked in.

“As both the companies cringed at the land price quoted in Rajarhat (Rs 2.16 crore per acre), the government scrambled to offer them land between Rajarhat and the airport at reduced rates. Infosys and Wipro wanted to study the area before discussing the price issue, but they have not even got the maps yet,” confirmed a source.

IT minister Debesh Das passed the buck to West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), entrusted with the responsibility of land acquisition. “WBIDC is in charge of the project and so issues like GIS mapping and land price have to be fixed by them,” said Das.

No WBIDC official was willing to comment.

The state government has decided to acquire 1,000 acres opposite Vedic Village to offer to IT companies, what with Sector V reaching saturation point and Rajarhat pricing itself out. Plots from the new stretch — for which the land acquisition process has not even begun — was what the government had earmarked for Infosys and Wipro, reportedly at Rs 50 lakh per acre.

IT department sources suggest that the maps could not be sent to the companies simply because they are not yet ready. The land remains to be plotted, acquired and then developed.

No wonder Rajarhat still tops Wipro’s preference list, something Azim Premji is said to have conveyed to Bhattacharjee during a one-to-one meeting on the sidelines of a CII conclave in town last month.

“In terms of catering to our requirement, the Rajarhat land assumes greater importance as we would like developed plots with all the facilities within a reasonable timeframe,” Jyotirmoi Bhattacharya, manager, administration and facility, Wipro Technologies, told Metro.

But Team Buddha insists that all’s well in its woo-Wipro bid. “Wipro is very keen on the project and the company has even sent us a letter,” said minister Das.

WBIDC had roped in Infrastructure Leasing and Finance Company (IL&FS) to plan and execute the acquisition around eight months ago. “There is nothing much to talk about at this stage as we have done little except stop land sale and purchase in the area,” said an IL&FS source, adding that land acquisition would take at least a year.

“Even if we assume that the companies agree to plots opposite Vedic Village, the question is whether they will wait that long,” wondered an industry source.

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