Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday claimed Infosys Ltd had agreed to start construction of its proposed development centre in Kolkata, even without the state granting the company permission to turn it into a special economic zone (SEZ).
“Infosys has agreed to start construction of its development center in Kolkata, West Bengal, which will have a capacity to seat around 1000 people,” said the IT firm in a statement. “We will submit the plan for the proposed center to the West Bengal government as soon as the land registration process is complete.”
Back in 2010, the West Bengal government had allotted 50 acres in Rajarhat township near Kolkata to Infosys after several failed attempts by the state to get the company to invest in West Bengal. The firm paid Rs75 crore to acquire the land, but didn’t start construction.
After Banerjee took office as chief minister in 2011, she said she would not allow the development centre to be turned into an SEZ in line with her party Trinamool Congress’s stand on such enclaves with special trade laws. This hobbled the project, but Banerjee claimed on Tuesday that the company had changed its mind and was now looking to invest at least Rs100 crore.
A key official in the state government said that during recent discussions with the management of Infosys, the administration had assured the company of compensating in “other ways”. Following this commitment, the company has agreed to start construction of its development centre in Kolkata, this official said, asking not to be named.
Kolkata has been on Infosys’s radar from 2004. But its first attempt to acquire land in Rajarhat township failed because of prohibitive land prices. The state, at that time ruled by the Left Front, did not agree to allot land at prices acceptable to Infosys.
Finally, in April 2008, the company announced that it would set up a development centre in Kolkata, spending at least Rs500 crore and that the unit would employ 5,000 people when scaled up. It led to the company acquiring a 50 acre plot but not much beyond because the political regime changed.