West Bengal has lost an opportunity to create thousands of jobs when it scrapped the proposed IT hub project in Kolkata, a senior official of Infosys Technologies said late on Monday.
"By one stroke, a progressive state like West Bengal has lost an opportunity to create about 5,000 jobs by our company. There is a sense of sadness because the state is missing out on the IT job creation," Infosys director and human resources development head T.V. Mohandas Pai said in Bangalore.
As India's second largest IT bellwether, Infosys had applied for about 100 acres to set up a software development centre under the Special Economic Zone (SEZ), with an upfront investment of Rs.250 crore (Rs.2.5 billion) to create about 5,000 jobs.
The proposed IT township at Rajarhat near Salt Lake become controversial following allegations that land sharks - allegedly backed by promoters of Vedic Realty - had been involved in land acquisition.
Terming the sudden decision of the state government an unfortunate development, Pai said the educated middle-class youth of the state stand to lose out more than the global software major.
"We are not the loser as we have enough capacity in other places across the country to expand. The West Bengal government had promised to allot about 100 acres for our facility though our application had been pending since 2005," Pai said.
Though unwilling to blame the state government for reversing the decision, he said politics was playing spoilsport in the state, as evident from what happened earlier in Singur and now in Kolkata itself.
"The state government is unable to keep its promises. After the Tatas left Singur, this is virtually the last straw on the camel's back. We may have to look out elsewhere though we are keen on having a presence in Bengal too," Pai noted.
With states vying for attracting investments and competing for human capital, Pai said employment generation was the responsibility of the respective governments to retain talent and check migration of jobs.
"We thought the Bengal government would stand by its commitment as we had shown lot of patience in getting the nod for investing in Kolkata. We are shocked by its retrograde step," Pai lamented.
Companies like Infosy, Wipro and ITC Infotech had chalked out plans to set up units in the proposed IT hub.
Earlier, describing the decision as "totally not the right thing to do," Pai told a Bengali news channel in Kolkata that the project could have generated 50,000-100,000 jobs.
"The government should take the pivotal role in land acquisition for any important project," Pai told Chobish Ghonta, the 24x7 regional news channel.
Asked if his company was hopeful of returning to the state later, Pai said: "No, I am not hopeful of returning to the state."
IT bellwether Wipro, which already has a presence in Kolkata, declined to respond to the development and its officials were unavailable for comments.