Bengal’s IT sector looks beyond recession daysJanuary 25th, 2009 - 1:14 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Jan 25 (IANS) The global economic meltdown has reduced the pace of growth of West Bengal’s showpiece IT sector, but the state wants to build IT infrastructure and develop a talent pool so that it’s ready when times get better.”During the last financial year, the IT sector in the state grew around 46 percent in dollar terms against the national growth of 28 percent,” state IT Minister Debesh Das told IANS.
“The way we were growing in the past has slowed down now,” he said, adding: “Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies) predicted an all India growth of 15 percent. I hope our growth will be more than that.”
The state government had set a target earlier to become one of the country’s best three IT states by 2010, which Das said would be impossible to achieve now.
The IT sector boom in the state started in 2001-02. Among the various big national and international IT companies in the state, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is the major player, contributing 45 percent to the growth of the IT units in the state.
“During this time of downturn, we will concentrate on infrastructure building,” Das said.
Emphasis will also be given to IT education. This will help the state develop a talent pool, so that when the downturn ends, it will be ready to cater to the needs of the industry.
Recently, the city-based Dhunseri Group has started a project to build a twin-tower IT office complex at an investment of Rs.1.3 billion (Rs.130 crore/$26 million).
“The state government is constructing buildings in Durgapur and Siliguri. These are completely public projects,” Das said. Each building is coming up in 2-3 acres, he added.
Siliguri is the gateway to northeastern India, while Durgapur is an industrial town.
“It is at the heart of the cities. It will be completed by 2009,” Das said.
“In Durgapur and Siliguri, we are talking to a few companies, who will be interested in setting up offices in these two locations. They are modelled on a well-appreciated IT infrastructure building we had constructed in the Salt Lake area near the city,” the minister added.
West Bengal contributes 3-4 percent to the nation’s IT coffers.
“We had earlier targeted a figure of 15-20 percent matching with the growth rate of the IT sector over here, but now it is not possible,” Das said, “though in IT export, we have crossed the $1 billion mark in 2007-08″.
The state is gearing up to house its first animation park at the newly developing Rajarhat town in the northeastern fringes of Kolkata.
“We want to build a laser park as well as an animation park in the state. We are in talks with Warner Bros though it’s at an initial stage. We have talked to a few other national and international companies too,” Das said.
Animation major DQ Entertainment has already set up its first venture in Salt Lake, employing 300 professionals.
“A few companies from the Silicon Valley have shown eagerness to shift to Kolkata due to the facilities we provide over here. Talks are still on, six to seven companies have contacted us,” the minister said.
He is hopeful that registrations for the software technology park in 2008-09 will surpass those of 2007-08.
In the last fiscal, 33 companies registered for the software technology park in the city. This fiscal (2008-09), 30 companies have registered so far.
Asked to what extent the recent Satyam scam will impact the IT industry and its future overseas deals, Das said: “Satyam scam is not related to IT. It’s a monetary scam. It won’t affect our image. IT industry depends on the services it delivers. No such scam would affect it adversely.”
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