Information technology behemoth Wipro is about to expand within its existing premises at Salt Lake’s Sector V, on getting clear signals from the Mamata Banerjee government that it wouldn’t be given SEZ status for its second campus in Rajarhat.
This should be good news for the government, which, many feared, would fail to attract IT majors Infosys and Wipro (for its second campus). The fact that the Narendra Modi government has been talking of more incentives for SEZs has been adding to Bengal’s woes.
Wipro Technologies has decided to build a tower that will eat up less space on the 14.5-acre campus that enjoys an SEZ status and is situated prominently in the IT hub of the satellite township.
Soon after meeting the chief minister in December 2011, Wipro Technologies chairperson Azim Premji had said that the company would be expanding in Kolkata, indicating intentions to invest about Rs 700 crore in the new facility that would create employment for around 15,000 people.
Mamata Banerjee, much before she toppled the Left rule, had asserted several times that she was against SEZs, insisting that it would tantamount to grabbing land and enjoying unnecessary tax benefits. There are now four IT SEZs in the state — Wipro, Unitech, DLF and Bantala IT SEZ. Former IT minister Partha Chatterjee offered Wipro land at Bantala, which enjoys an SEZ status, but again, that would mean further compromise on space because there are no big enough plots at the Bantala IT township.
On the other hand, to be competitive in the current market conditions, SEZs are an important criterion for IT majors. When an area is notified as an SEZ, businesses get a tax holiday for the first five years. For the next five years, they don’t pay half the tax on income.
An official in the state IT department explained,” An SEZ status would allow them to gain scalability while making operations more profitable.” Vijay Kumar Agarwal, general manager, Wipro, Kolkata, said, “We are looking forward to the extension project.”