Touted as a game-changer for start-ups and budding information technology firms, the Entrepreneur Development Centre (EDC) of the Chandigarh administration is turning out to be a `18 crore disappointment. Right from the start, it has been struggling to find takers, and the few IT firms functioning from the centre are a harried lot due to inadequacies.
Since its inception in 2009, the centre has managed to attract just four young entrepreneurs (categorised as YEs). There are a total of 19 bays covering 20,189 sq feet, out of which 11 are fully furnished, equipped with plug-and-play facilities, and are reserved for YEs, while eight unfurnished bays are earmarked for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The entrepreneurs are facing serious problems owing to erratic power supply. According to sources, the centre has power back-up only for the elevator, lighting and computers. There is no back-up for air-conditioning; it’s a serious problem as with no proper ventilation the centre becomes claustrophobic. “There are no windows, so it gets very suffocating in the absence of AC. In the past few months, there have been frequent power breakdowns, forcing us to call it a day early on many occasions,” rued an entrepreneur, requesting anonymity.
The firms are also coping with water seepage. The issue was taken up with the engineering department, but in vain, say the firms. One of the entrepreneurs complained that rainwater gathered in the stairs, corridor and bays, and anyone could slip and get hurt. Equipment of some of the firms was also damaged reportedly due to water seeping into the bays. “The administration claims EDC to be a world-class centre, but this is the kind of infrastructure they are providing to young entrepreneurs! We sometimes repent our decision of coming here,” said a firm owner.
When contacted, UT information technology secretary Prerna Puri said the maintenance of the centre was being done by the engineering department. She said there were “light seepages”, which were being looked into by the department concerned. On power-related issues, she said that there were “some technical problems at the sub-station” which had now been resolved.
The UT administration has made another attempt for attracting young IT firms to shift base to EDC by inviting fresh applications. This is the third time in four years that fresh applications have been called for allotment of space. At present, there are five bays in young entrepreneurs and eight bays in SME category up for the taking. For young entrepreneurs, the organisation should not be more than a year old with investment up to `5 lakh, while in case of SMEs the organisation should be 1-4 years old with investment of `10 lakh-5 crore. The reserve licence fee for YEs is `25 per sq ft, and `50 per sq ft per month for SMEs.
List of problems
1) Erratic power supply
2) No proper power back-up
3) Lack of a ventilation system
4) Water seepage
5) Design of bays