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Infosys still refuses to open up its Hubballi campus fully

Infosys is the only technology giant functioning in the entire North Karnataka, and if this campus is shut, the chances of other technology-based companies setting up their bases here would dwindle.
Last Updated 28 February 2024, 02:09 IST

Hubballi: The political mud-slinging in assembly over the future of Infosys campus in Hubballi has created uncertainty among the people of North Karnataka with regard to this IT major.

Infosys is the only technology giant functioning in the entire North Karnataka, and if this campus is shut, the chances of other technology-based companies setting up their bases here would dwindle.

Hubballi-Dharwad West MLA Arvind Bellad has been claiming that the campus, next to the Hubballi Airport, has not kept its word of employing more than 1,000 locals at its campus. He has been demanding action against the company for violating its agreement.

However, activists, who fought for the commencement of the Infosys Hubballi development centre (DC) through their series of protest (#StartInfosysHubli), say that the politicians, to hide their inefficiency of bringing more tech-based companies and develop the region, are now blaming the company. The activists also reminded the company of its commitment to employ more locals at the campus.

Industry Minister M B Patil had recently stated in the Assembly that a committee will soon visit the Infosys Hubballi campus to take stock of the functioning of the campus, and take back the land if the IT major has not implemented its undertaking in true spirit.

The Infosys at the time of entering a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the State government had claimed to provide at least 1,000 jobs to the local candidates. However, currently, there are only a total of 300 plus employees working from the campus since August 1, 2022.

43 acre land

The Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) had allotted 43.05 acre of land under the information technology-special economic zone (IT-SEZ) category to Infosys. In phase-I, Infosys developed a campus at an estimated cost of Rs 350 crore with a built-up area of 3.64 lakh sqft in 2018. The campus has a capacity to house 1,500 employees.

Sources in Infosys claim that the campus has been started under IT-SEZ category, wherein only overseas projects can be taken up.

“The multi-national companies are demanding an international airport before assigning projects to the company. Hubballi does not have an international airport as of now. So, we are not getting many projects,” said the source, and added that the company has made several requests to relax this rule to make sure that their other projects are shifted here.

An employee working in the campus said, there are several employees who are seeking transfer to the Hubballi campus. However, due to IT-SEZ rules, they are unable to. “Upgrading the airport to international standards is in the government's hand,” the employee said, and added if more projects come here, they will recruit more people for the project.

Transfer requests

After the Covid-19 pandemic, many employees from the region had opted for work-from-home option, and several of them have been working from the Hubballi campus now. However, due to poor public transport facilities, the staff are struggling and withdrawing their transfer request.

The employees staying in Hubballi and Dharwad manage to commute with their private vehicles. But, those coming from Haveri, Gadag, Belagavi, and neighbouring places are finding it difficult to reach the campus as there is no dedicated bus service, and the company does not have a pick-and-drop facility.

Meanwhile, Infosys Hubballi campus has recruited some IT students from various engineering colleges including IIT and IIIT in the twin cities. A few of the students, who came to the campus for internship, also got selected, source added.

“Whose responsibility is it to provide basic facilities and make changes in the rules: Government and legislators. Without fulfilling their obligations and if the political leaders go for killing the campus, then it is a big tragedy for the region. Our leaders need to think over the stand,” said an activist who was part of #StartInfosysHubli.

He also asked Infosys not to hide behind the rules to escape from its responsibilities of hiring local talents.

What Bellad says?

Hubballi-Dharwad West MLA Arvind Bellad said, the government has fulfilled the demands of Infosys like allotting land, widened road to reach their campus, airport, electric train, and other facilities to start their campus in Hubballi. But still, there are no recruitment to the Hubballi campus.

“They are showing 300 employees in the campus, but they are not recruited to work from the Hubballi campus. Those who are on work-from-home, visit the campus, but not on a regular basis. Infosys said, it will recruit 10,000 employees for its various campuses, and let them recruit at least 1,000 for Hubballi campus. The government has given all the facilities they demanded. Now, it is their turn to recruit employees for Hubballi campus,” he noted.

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(Published 28 February 2024, 02:09 IST)

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