ITC plans huge IT hubs in Bangalore, Kolkata

ITC plans huge IT hubs in Bangalore, Kolkata

Keeping its focus on a stronger presence in the services sector, ITC plans to spruce up its IT services in Bangalore and Kolkata, its two major business centres, said the multi-pronged company’s chairman Y C Deveshwar on Friday. While the Indian corporate giant is planning a major IT hub in Bangalore, it is also planning an IT and logistics hub in Kolkata.

Pointing out that tobacco will soon take a back seat to the other units of the company in terms of profit, brand value and market presence, Deveshwar said that the services sector, including IT and hospitality, has become one of the major focal points for the company. 

“We are setting up an IT hub in Bangalore spread across 1.8 million square feet, which will be one of the biggest platinum-rated ‘green’ buildings in the country,” he said, adding that the proposed IT hub would be like the ITC Grand Chola hotel in Chennai in its scale and carbon efficiency.

Not willing to give out details about the project, the ITC chairman said that the Bangalore hub would be a software development centre. He also spoke of similar projects at Rajarhat, the satellite township of Kolkata.

“ITC wants to invest in West Bengal. We want 50 acres for the IT project but we are ready to make do with whatever land we get,” he said, pointing out that ITC is the only company of its size in West Bengal.

Putting in a good word for Mamata Banerjee’s government, the ITC chairman also asked industrialists who have left the state to return and invest here. 

“We are willing to invest in Bengal, but land is an issue. However, the government is very cooperative. The government has to follow its own procedure, but it has been very helpful,” he said, adding that the problem of getting land has become a pan-Indian feature, with the only difference being that in some states the process of getting land is faster and in others it is very slow.

On a lighter note, Deveshwar pointed out that ITC had paid for the land in Bengal meant for the IT hub in 2003 and got possession last year, hinting that things were slower in the Left regime. 

In a further boost to Mamata’s image, he said, “Of recent, things have started moving faster. In the last one-and-a-half years it has been relatively faster on getting things done and getting land.”  He, however, expressed apprehension that policy bottlenecks across India could be acting as speed-breakers for the nation’s growth story. “Policy bottlenecks are there, and affecting India’s growth,” he said, pointing out that due to several policy-related issues, around 40 of ITC’s projects have got stalled at various stages of completion.  “We have a free-flow of resources, but bottlenecks lie in getting permits, land. Almost every project is delayed. The first problem is getting land, then having it converted for manufacturing, civil construction, etc. But our record is good and our investment rate is accelerating every year,” said Deveshwar, adding that the stalled projects include hotels, factories and warehouses.

Earlier in the day, Deveshwar addressed the company’s 102nd Annual General Meeting at the Science City auditorium in east Kolkata, where he announced that Rs 19,500 crore has been accrued from the group’s non-cigarette FMCG and other sectors, which is a 15-fold growth since ITC started diversifying in 1996.  He also told shareholders that this figure is expected to go up to Rs 1 lakh crore by 2025. 

The company also plans to invest around Rs 26,000 crore over the next five years, he announced at the AGM. 

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