100 acres more for New Town IT hub, land leeway for Wipro

The Bengal cabinet on Tuesday allotted another 100 acres to Silicon Valley, a new IT hub in New Town, and allotted plots to 20 IT companies.

The fast-track allotment was aimed at facilitating expansion of IT and IT-enabled services (ITES) companies through which the state government hopes to create 5 lakh new jobs in the next three years.

The cabinet  cleared a proposal to allow Wipro to use 49 per cent of a 50-acre plot for non-IT  purposes. The government had given the 50 acres to the company to set up a development centre in New Town.

“The Silicon Valley project had started with 100 acres and as the area has been filled up, we have allotted another 100 acres. We have also allotted land to 20 IT companies in the IT hub today,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said at Nabanna on Tuesday after chairing a cabinet meeting.

Then, she announced the government’s decision to ease land use norms for Wipro.

A similar relaxation was offered to Infosys, too, which was also given a 50-acre plot in New Town. In 2018, the Bengal government had allowed Infosys, which deferred its plan to come to Bengal as its proposal seeking SEZ status for its project was turned down by the state government, freehold land rights on a 50-acre plot in New Town, enabling the IT major to use 49 per cent of the land for non-IT purposes without seeking clearances from various departments.

“Wipro will be allowed to use its plot on similar terms offered to Infosys,” the chief minister said.

Mamata said the state government had requested Infosys to set up a software development centre and the IT major had responded in the affirmative.

Sources at Nabanna said the initiatives suggested the state government had decided to relax some of the existing norms to help growth in the IT and ITES sectors so that its goal of creating 5 lakh jobs in these sectors in the next three years could be achieved.

The Bengal government is aiming to create a policy environment and infrastructure so that 35 lakh new employment opportunities are generated in the state over the next three years.

“The target is creation of 15 lakh jobs in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector and 5 lakh jobs in the IT sector. The manner in which new companies were allotted land and the deal was sweetened for Wipro makes it clear that the government is serious about job creation in the state,” said a senior government official.

Multiple sources in the government said with the land allotments and relaxations, Nabann is keen to send out a message that land availability for the purpose of industry is not a problem in Bengal.

“There is a perception that getting land is a problem in Bengal… That issue is being addressed with utmost sincerity to aid the process of industrialisation, which is a must for job creation,” said a source close to Mamata.

The chief minister on Tuesday also announced the government’s decision to hold 617 fairs at block, district and state levels over the next few months to give a boost to the MSME sector that has been struggling in the post-lockdown period because of sluggish demand.

“It is estimated that trade of around Rs 156 crore would take place at the fairs and 3.64 lakh jobs would be generated,” said the chief minister

A senior official pointed out that the government had already started working on a plan to meet its target of generating 15 lakh jobs in the MSME sector in the next three years. “The chief minister wants to build the base for achieving the target ahead of the Assembly polls so that something visible can be presented before the electorate,” said an official.

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