RED CARPET FOR TECH SCHOOL 

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By BY SUTANUKA GHOSAL AND SUVRO ROY in Calcutta
  • Published 28.03.00
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Calcutta, March 28 :     The government has made a strong pitch for the first of Purnendu Chatterjee's six multi-million-dollar science and technology institutes, saying it will not allow the project to be located "anywhere but in Calcutta". Deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya said the government has started to clear the decks for Chatterjee's 5,000-acre Lake Land village project, which envisages setting up of a sprawling township with a global institute for science and technology (GIST) and a host of subsidiary research centres thrown in. "Mark my words, the project is going to be located in the city and nowhere else. He (Chatterjee) is certainly building the Lake Land Village here. He has already bought some of the land," Bhattacharya told The Telegraph on Tuesday. According to The Chatterjee Group (TCG) sources, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has asked Purnendu Chatterjee to set up the first campus "immediately". Two years ago, Chatterjee had approached the state government with his plans of building the township. And while the state pondered over the project, the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka were busy queuing up to try and get Chatterjee and his GIST units to their respective states. Chandrababu Naidu, S.M. Krishnan and Keshubhai Patel have sent in written assurances of providing "all facilities and support" to Chatterjee for his project. "Nothing doing. It has all been decided. Purnendu Chatterjee is setting up the institute here," said Bhattacharya. The state government will announce some policy decisions soon to facilitate clearance of the project, Bhattacharya said. This implies exemption from the Land Ceiling Act and township status for the project. Chatterjee, one of the major promoters of the Haldia Petrochem project, proposes to set up the 5,000-acre township off the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, 16 km from downtown Calcutta. Chatterjee has already approached higher education department officials and discussed the project with them. An appointment with higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty has been sought. Besides tying up with the University of California, Berkeley, GIST is in the process of enlisting the support of Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Stanford. It will offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The syllabus will conform to international standards and professors based in foreign universities will visit the institute regularly. GIST, which will have six campuses all over the country, has already tied up a $ 300-millon sponsorship from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. The list of sponsors includes Desh Deshpande of Sycamore Networks, Arjun Malhotra of HCL, Vinod Khosla of Kleiner Perkins and Vinod Gupta of InfoUSA, besides Purnendu Chatterjee of TCG. Apart from GIST, plans have been drawn up for a cancer research centre, a bio-technology research centre, an information technology research centre, etc. Somnath Chatterjee, WBIDC chairman, is said to have written to the chief minister requesting appropriate measure to ensure that GIST comes to Calcutta.