VISAKHAPATNAM: With the state government making every attempt to woo IT companies to set up their branches in Visakhapatnam where an IT Investment Region (ITIR) is proposed, the long-pending issues pertaining to the city-based IT companies are likely to be resolved shortly. A special committee, led by IT minister Palle Raghunath Reddy, will visit the city Tuesday and meet the stakeholders to sort out the issues plaguing the IT firms in the city.
The state government’s decision to create a second IT destination after Hyderabad in the then united Andhra Pradesh led to establishment of an IT Special Economic Zone in Visakhapatnam. Despite initial hiccups, some enthusiastic and small-time entrepreneurs from the region have established their units in the city, hoping for good support from the state government. Several IT majors also evinced their interest to open their offices in the Port City.
However, the global recession has discouraged many of them and even those who were allotted lands in the city could not take up the operations to the promised capacity. Lack of proper infrastructure and support from the state government has forced the small-time companies to restrict their operations to minimum level and ever since, they have been demanding that the government bail them out by providing them incentives as the delay in development of the promised infrastructure by the state government did not happen, leading to losses.
The visit of Visakhapatnam North MLA P Vishnu Kumar Raju to the local campus of Wipro at the old TB Hospital Junction Monday ahead of the special committee’s visit, revealed the sorry state of affairs at the company here. As against the promised employment to about 3,000 techies, Wipro is said to be operating with only 300 employees. The situation is said to be no different at Tech Mahindra campus in the city.
Interestingly, both the companies which have been struggling to run operations from Vizag, have recently evinced interest in expanding their operations here and the state government has, in-principle, agreed to Wipro setting up a SEZ facility and allotment of 10 acres to Tech Mahindra apart from allotting 13 acres to public sector company Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering and Research (SAMEER) in the city. The BJP MLA said that certain issues were identified during his visit which will be taken up with the special committee led by IT minister Palle Raghunath Reddy for improving the situation.
O Naresh Kumar, vice-president of Rushikonda IT Park Association (RITPA) and chief executive officer of the city-based Symbiosys Technologies, has said that the IT sector is facing another round of global slowdown and a host of concessions to IT firms are required to build the brand image of Andhra Pradesh to promote investments and create employment.
He felt that the new IT Promotion Policy by the state government should solve the existing problems of infrastructure at IT SEZ in Rushikonda and the government should allow ownership of units on the lines of the Central government or denotify the SEZ.
“The existing companies with extra space should be allowed to lease out the space to new IT companies. As promised while inviting us to open our companies, the government should provide quality power at low cost without voltage fluctuations and power cuts.
A few IT parks of a minimum space of 10-25 lakh sft each should be promoted to create large scale employment. An exit policy should be prepared for defaulting companies to encourage new industries in their place,” Naresh Kumar said.
Besides, the IT players are demanding a single window clearance cell with a special office assigned to expedite the clearance of all the new investment proposals.
Creation of incubation centres, promotion of animation and gaming industry, waiver or subsidy of various taxes, free facilities like internet and software, model low-cost residential colonies for IT employees in the vicinity and also facilities like international convention centres are also being sought by the IT companies for speedy development of the city into a favourite IT destination.
HURDLES FOR IT BOOM IN VIZAG
Lack of low-cost quality power and frequent outages
Absence of incubation centres
Govt’s reluctance to offer tax incentives
Dearth of international convention centres