Cognizant buys 15 acres SEZ land in Kolkata

KOLKATA: The Mamata Banerjee government has permitted Shapoorji Pallonji Group to sell 15 acres of its 50 acre land at Action Area III of New Town-Rajarjat to information technology giant Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS).

Significantly, this 50-acre land parcel owned by Bengal Shapoorji Developers, a subsidiary of Shapoorji Pallonji group, enjoys special economic zone (SEZ) status.

The group will shortly initiate the procedure to revalidate the SEZ status. If that is successful, the Cognizant facility, too, would enjoy SEZ status. Shapoorji is in discussion with other IT companies for the remaining 35 acres.

This will be Cognizant’s third campus in Kolkata. The US -based tech giant has five facilities in the city -two self-owned (in Salt Lake Sector V and Bantala) and three leased properties.

State education minister Partha Chatterjee announced the development at Nabanna on Tuesday and said the government had also “waived the development fee” for the project. When contacted, a Shapoorji Pallonji Group official confirmed that it had got the necessary go-ahead from the state government to sell the land. “We will start the procedure for revalidating the SEZ status of the land. We hope that SEZ status will continue. The company will also initiate discussions with other IT firms for the remaining 35 acres,” the official added. Even as per conservative estimates, the valuation of the land parcel will not be less than Rs 70-80 crore.

The Shapoorji Pallonji Group firm bought the land from Hidco in 2006 for setting up an IT and ITeS SEZ. Later, it got a formal approval in 2007 and 2008 and it was notified as an SEZ. However, the company had delayed the project following global recession in 2008. “Owing to recession and other reasons, the project was delayed. But now we are serious,” the Shapoorji official added. However, he refused to comment on the valuation.

The development has assumed significance because after lying low for four years, technology giants Wipro and Infosys had applied for SEZ status for their respective mega projects on 50 acres each in Rajarhat last month. Trinamool Congress in its manifesto in 2011 clearly said it was against giving an SEZ tag to any industrial project. However, the same SEZ clause was not mentioned in the ruling party’s manifesto in 2016. It was learnt that the TMC leadership has reservation about an `SEZ’ tag, which renders plenty of tax sops.

The Wipro application which was heard last month by Board of Approvals (BoA) was kept on hold as there was no recommendation from the state government. However, Sapoorji-Cognizant deal can set a good example for others to follow.

Credits ET Realty

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