|Prasanta Paul, Kolkata, Sep 8, DH News Service :
In a development that could seriously impair the future IT investment scenario in West Bengal, the beleaguered Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government on Monday announced scrapping its big-ticket Kolkata Links project at Rajarhat near here that was to house sprawling campuses of IT majors Infosys Technologies and Wipro among others.
Unable to face the heat and controversy generated by the state’s biggest scam over the alleged forcible and illegal acquisition of land from farmers so close to the city, authorities in the state IT department, perhaps under strict advice from Bhattacharjee, came out with a terse statement confirming the worst apprehensions of the local IT honchos.
“The government does not want to be involved in any illegal activity. At this moment, we are unable to stick to our assurances of providing land to Wipro and Infosys and thereby constrained to inform them about the government’s inability (to provide the required land)”, the state IT department said in a statement here.
“When the government failed to provide land and accommodate IT companies, a private company on its own initiative contacted Infosys and offered them land in the area close to the airport and Rajarhat New Town,” the statement said without naming Vedic Realty. “Infosys visited the area a number of times and agreed to take the land and come here, provided the government was involved in the project,” it added.
“The company also engaged the renowned architect of the country, Hafeez Contractor, whose services are extensively used by Infosys also for their projects,” the statement said without elaborating further on whether the authorities have any other land in mind to compensate the two IT companies.
The government said that departments like Housing, Land and Land Reforms, Urban Development and PWD were in favour of scrapping the project in the wake of the scam that has just come to the fore following arson and mob fury at Vedic Village on August 23.
“It is impossible for the IT department to proceed with the project if any of these departments refused to facilitate,” the statement said.
The process of allocation of land and its price quoted by the government to the promoter of Vedic Village snowballed into a major crisis for the government after Land and Land Reforms Minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah and Housing Minister Goutam Dev traded charges on the acquisition of land at Rajarhat for the Kolkata Links project.
Even though Mollah demanded the project be scrapped, Dev expressed surprise when asked about the fate of the IT project and said that he was “completely in the dark about it”.
Earlier, IT Minister Debesh Das said that the state had already acquired around 200 acres out of which land would be allocated to Infosys and Wipro.