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Clash over, B’lore reboots

The storm clouds over Bangalore’s premier IT event—Bangalore—seemed to have cleared today with trade bodies representin...

Written by Johnson T A | Bangalore |
September 16, 2005

The storm clouds over Bangalore’s premier IT event—Bangalore—seemed to have cleared today with trade bodies representing the city’s infotech firms announcing the end of their stand-off with the Karnataka government on the deteriorating infrastructure here.

The IT firms have also agreed to rethink their proposed boycott of the event, which is scheduled to start on October 26. Today’s announcement follows hectic negotiations between IT industry, trade bodies and the government at an emergency meeting convened by Chief Secretary B K Das.

‘‘We have agreed on major issues confronting us and decided to resolve them amicably. The IT industry is willing to participate in,’’ Das said after the meeting.

As part of the compromise, the Congress-JDS ruling coalition has agreed to improve eight central Bangalore roads, five roads linking to the airport, and six roads around the IT-centric Hosur-Sarjapur Road, Koramangala and Indira Nagar on priority—by the end of the year.

On a medium term basis—five to six years—an eight to 10-lane peripheral ring road has been promised. Besides, a white paper on the long-term initiatives to improve Bangalore’s infrastructure will be out by the end of October, said HP Globalsoft CEO and CII chairman Som Mittal.

The IT companies, represented at the meeting by Infosys Technologies Chief Financial Officer Mohandas Pai, Mphasis Technologies chief Anant Koppar and Philips Software CEO Bob Hoekstra, have promised to participate in infrastructure projects.

IT industry representatives will also meet government officials every month to assess progress on infrastructure.

Koppar, who is also president of the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said the decision to participate in would be taken at a meeting of the BCIC’s general council.

While the largely MNC-dominated 18-organisation Bangalore Forum for IT had first announced a decision to boycott, the 514-member BCIC—comprising IT giants like Infosys and Wipro—followed suit, pointing to government apathy on infrastructure.

The government’s approach had resulted ‘‘in a 40 per cent drop in entry of new IT companies to the city, from 52 in 2003-04 to 30 in 2004-05,’’ BCIC’s Koppar had said while announcing the boycott.

The state government struck back with Deputy CM M.P. Prakash and Industries Minister P G R Sindhia questioning the IT industry’s commitment to Karnataka. Infosys CFO Pai countered: ‘‘The IT sector has contributed five lakh jobs . We contribute foreign exchange worth between $ 23-25 billion to the country. Karnataka’s revenues from VAT has grown by 26% on the back of the IT sector.’’

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