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Last Updated: May 17, 2007 - 8:46:52 AM
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Tagore's idyll set to turn into IT hub
Mar 26, 2007 - 10:34:07 AM
'We hope to complete the first phase in 36 months,' said Das Gupta.

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[RxPG] Kolkata, March 26 - Imagine an IT park with the best global brands keeping company with modern healthcare, a golf course, a cluster of non-polluting industries, a hotel and a quaint residency. All on the fringes of West Bengal's Santiniketan, the idyllic abode of knowledge and learning set up by Rabindranath Tagore.

Move over the dour business districts and urban IT hubs. A new growth centre coming up at Santiniketan - over 193 acres, about 213 km north of Kolkata, is all set to combine Tagore with technology and techies.

'This proposed growth centre will convey the entire lifestyle cycle from hospitals, educational hub, non-polluting industrial blocks, IT park, hotels, spa, sports, housing and a residential block for senior citizens,' Ashoke Das Gupta, CEO, Shantiniketan Infrastructure Private Limited -, told IANS in an interview.

SIPL is developing the growth centre along with WBIIDC - with the latter only holding 26 percent equity in the project. Private partners hold 74 percent equity in the project of about Rs.7 billion.

'We want to cash in on the advantages of Santiniketan in Birbhum district since people from Germany, Russia, Japan and other far off countries know the place for Tagore and his unique heritage of learning and knowledge,' said Das Gupta.

'The question now is: Why would an IT company want their unit to be based there? Since we are not aiming to set up call centres you can jolly well do business from Santiniketan. If you are doing research work, Santiniketan is the best place,' said Das Gupta.

'The development of this growth centre will draw its inspiration from the distinctive 'sense of place' in Santiniketan and its spiritual, social and environmental ambience,' he said.

'While this growth centre would be only five km from Santiniketan, it is just 59 km from the Durgapur-Asansol industrial belt. The place is only 213 km from Kolkata,' said Das Gupta.

'Within a 100-km radius you have Durgapur, Burnpur, Burdwan. The place has good human resources. Many young people from the region feel uprooted when going to Kolkata. These simple yet efficient young men and women can be utilised there at a very reasonable salary,' felt Das Gupta.

'I recently spoke to Bikram Dasgupta, the CEO of Globsyn Technologies Ltd -. He subscribed to the idea that IT need not be Kolkata-centric,' said Das Gupta.

According to Dasgupta, IT has to move out of Kolkata to a second destination.

'We are looking out of Kolkata now but you need an airport nearby. I am told that an airport would come up in the area. If there is air connectivity then though Santiniketan is a little detour from the Durgapur industrial belt it can develop,' Dasgupta told IANS when queried about the idea.

'We are quite hopeful about Durgapur as a next destination and since Santiniketan is close to Durgapur this project can be interesting,' he said, adding, 'It is a little early to say because we had only one session with them -.'

According to Ashoke Das Gupta, queries about the project kept pouring in from across India and abroad.

'We already have Ginger group of the Tatas which would set up their hotel in the growth centre. India's one of the topmost IT firms has also showed interest,' said Das Gupta.

SIPL is also planning boarding schools like Doon School or Rishi Valley in the area, said Das Gupta.

'There are so many people from the state to the US who just want to come back and offer the value system to their next generation. They would definitely be interested in such a place,' he hoped.

According to Das Gupta, in the growth centre between 60 and 70 percent area would be vacant as per the land use plan.

He said the houses to be built here would be normally a second house and the entire township would be for supporting the residential blocks.

'The senior citizen service apartment would be also something unique as it will offer all services to the old people and take complete care of them in a secured environment,' said Das Gupta.

'The houses will have summer garden and winter garden. They would be all green houses. We will go for carbon credit too in future,' said Das Gupta.

The project would take about six years to complete with the first phases, the work for which will start in April.

'We hope to complete the first phase in 36 months,' said Das Gupta.

The land for the centre was acquired by WBIIDC in 2000-01. The development rights have been given to SIPL already.

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