MUMBAI: The fingerprints of some private developers seem to be all over the state government’s new Information Technology (IT) policy.
A government resolution, issued last month, has substantially broadened the definition of IT by including a whole new gamut of services that can now be allowed in an IT park such as back offices of “travel and tourism facilitation, TV entertainment channels and sports and travel channels”.
The new definition also includes “back office operation” for administrative and support staff of banks, insurance companies, mutual fund and non-banking finance companies “or any department or office that is not usually seen by outsiders, which is responsible for function related to the running of the company such as settlements, compliance, accounting, IT and other technology,” said the resolution.
The government has also increased the floor space index (FSI) from 2 to 3 for IT parks and allowed developers in cities like Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Pune to use 20% of the land for commercial and residential purposes. Builders can now also sell a portion of the apartments to outsiders.
Sources said the previous IT policy introduced by the erstwhile Congress-NCP government was grossly manipulated and misused by some builders. “They took advantage of the tax benefits and additional construction rights meant for IT parks, but later illegally sold or rented out large sections of the space to other businesses and industries,” they said. The last IT policy led to a total built-up space of almost 13 million sqm. According to a bureaucrat, builders may have benefitted to the tune of roughly Rs 30,000 crore availing of the extra FSI.
The new policy now stipulates stringent penalties for such misuse, but after consultations and meetings with the builder’s body, MCHI-Credai and Mill Owners Association, among others the government expanded the definition of IT. Business process outsource services like “data entry, transcription, reconciliation, consolidation, co-ordination, proportion, processing review of documents” etc will also be allowed.
The policy has included “financial backroom operations for corporate and investment bank and private bank, disaster recovery, IT development and support, and ancillary office which includes back offices of manufacturing and other service, start-ups/companies that have no direct customer interface but provide essential support to the electronic media”. Sources said, “Under the guise of IT, the government has virtually opened up everything.”
But the state government claimed that no developer will be allowed to misuse the space for other purposes. “The developer of every IT park will provide updated information about names of the units in the park, utilization of built-up area and activities being carried out, manpower employed in the IT park for IT/ITES and support services on yearly basis,” the state said. “If a private IT park has availed additional FSI and subsequently, it is found that the built-up space is being used for non-IT and commercial activities, penal action will be taken.”
It added, “Misuse shall be ascertained by physical site verification of IT park by a team of officers from the directorate of industries and the planning authority which has approved the building plans. A per day penalty equal to 0.3% of the prevailing ready reckoner value of the built-up area that has been found to be used for non-IT/ITES activities will be levied.”
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