STATE IT Minister Bratya Basu on Thursday told the state Assembly that the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) proposals received from some IT companies were not in line with the state government’s overall policy for the tax-free zones.
When Congress MLA Asit Mitra raised the issue that IT major Infosys was holding back investment and subsequently employment, as the government was not keen on giving it the SEZ status, Basu said the state was open to hold discussions with Infosys but on its own terms.
Claiming that the state IT policy had been framed keeping all companies in mind, the minister said: “If any one company is demanding SEZ, it does not mean we will have to give in. We have to look into it in totality.” While Trinamool is opposed to forcible acquisition, the new SEZ policy refers to acquisition of large tracts of land.
Infosys, which had received 50-acre plot at Rajarhat from the state government for setting up its first facility in Bengal, is seeking SEZ status to the proposed facility. Sources said that Basu was already in touch with Infosys official and had invited them to Kolkata for talks.
“These (IT) companies could avail of various benefits which the state was offering and many such entities were already working here,” Basu said, adding that the IT department does not decide on SEZ.
“At the moment, Bengal had 11 functional IT hubs and seven more are under construction. Two more will come up in Belur and Cooch Behar. The IT Park in Taratala is complete and will soon be inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The IT sector has generated 17,000 jobs in the last two years,” said Basu. Asked about investment in the IT sector, Basu said that in 2013-14, while Rs 1265 crore was invested, in 2014-15 the amount was Rs 739.80 crore and in 2015-16, it was Rs 2219.75 crore.
Seven years ago, software giants Infosys and Wipro were allotted 50 acres each for Rs 75 crore by the previous Left Front government. While Wipro was supposed to set up its second campus, Infosys was to build a new one. Neither has happened till now.
The Opposition, meanwhile, claimed the state’s stand would spell trouble. “If the state does not mend its land policy, it will receive no big investment and we will have to depend upon micro, small and cottage industries,” said Congress MLA Manas Bhunia.
CPM MLA Sujan Chakraborty said the state would be deprived if companies such as Infosys left. “The government is not giving SEZ status to Infosys simply because it has said it won’t. If companies like these wrap up business from here, the state will lose Rs 5,000 crore to 5,500 crore. The CM should realise that the SEZ policy was formulated when she was a member of the Union cabinet,” he added.