West Bengal floats special cell for IT investment

Monday, 29 September 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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KOLKATA: West Bengal, which hopes to capture 20 percent of the Indian software export market by 2005, is starting a special cell to attract investment in IT.

The special cell, to be headed by state IT Minister Manab Mukherjee, will include officials of his ministry and the electronics department.

The new cell will expedite the implementation of IT projects and market the state as a desired investment destination for IT companies.

West Bengal's revised IT policy aims at making the state one of the top three states in software exports by 2010. The special cell and an expert committee will work together to help achieve the target.

According to a government official, the state notched a 116 percent growth in the past five years in the IT sector.

India's software exports currently stands at $5 billion, which is expected to go up to $50 billion in 2010.

International consulting firm McKinsey has predicted that the left ruled state, which woke up late to the potential of the IT industry, will attract 2 billion in investment during the next two years.

Between 1996 and 2001, West Bengal attracted such names as Microsoft, Wipro, Tata Infotech, IBM, NIIT and Cisco Systems, which either had investments in the state or were in the process of investing.

The state government is hoping that 10,000 new jobs would be created in IT-enabled services (ITES) sector in the next two years.

IT in the state is set to receive a major boost with the setting up of a 3 billion software technology park here under a private venture that is being billed as the "biggest IT complex in town".

Software technology parks have been planned in the district towns of Durgapur and Kharagpur.

The West Bengal government will provide 10 million and three acres of land to each of the proposed parks. The rest of the investment will be made by the central government-owned Software Technology Park of India.

Besides stressing on e-governance, which will involve connecting all the 18 districts with the secretariat here through a single computer network, the government is hiring the services of tech firms to raise the infrastructure for teaching computers in schools.

The government's new found interest in IT is in sharp contrast to its earlier cynicism about the benefits of computers and its concerted efforts to keep computers away from state-owned enterprises and offices.
Source: IANS
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