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SHARING A LIGHTER MOMENT: (From right) Dayanidhi Maran, Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology; S. Ramadorai, CEO and MD, Tata Consultancy Services; S.N. Zindal, Director General, STPI; Kiran Karnik, president, NASSCOM, at the function in Chennai on Saturday.

CHENNAI: Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology Dayanidhi Maran on Saturday appealed to the IT industry to spread its operations to tier-II cities.

Such a move, away from the major cities where space was turning out to be a constraint, would help broad base the growth and employment opportunities, he said laying the foundation stone for a facilities centre of the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) here.

An autonomous society under the Ministry, STPI had spread its wings to secondary cities in the State such as Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchi and planned to expand the operations if land was made available. Since it was not getting support from the State Government on this front, the Ministry had directed the STPI to relax the norms. As a result, if someone provided one lakh square feet of built up area it would set up facilities for the IT industry.

Tamil Nadu had to improve the infrastructure and be friendly to the investors, Mr. Maran said. Given the pace at which work on the IT corridor was progressing, it was unlikely to be completed by May as planned by the State Government. The State must capitalise on its advantages, including the four airports, network of educational institutions training manpower for the IT industry, and the entrepreneurial skills, to catch up with Bangalore and Maharashtra.

One lakh square feet

Spread over 1.5 acre and with a built up area of one lakh square feet, the proposed facilities centre of STPI in Chennai would essentially serve as an incubation centre for software exporters in the SME (small and medium enterprises) sector. It would be a 100-seater plug and play centre.

STPI director-general S.N. Zindal said it would be the "first building of this size" for the organisation.

The chief executive officer and managing director of Tata Consultancy Services Limited S. Ramadorai said the proposed centre would bring in greater efficiency in the operation of STPI. The impetus sought to be provided to the SMEs was commendable as the sector was a hub of innovation, employed over 20 million people, and contributed to 50 per cent of the gross domestic product.

Describing STPI as the mother that nurtured the IT industry, Kiran Karnik, president, National Association of Software and Service Companies, urged it to play a major role in future too.

Pankaj Agrawala, joint secretary to the Department of IT, said one of the objectives of the department was to promote information-communication technologies (ICT) for improving overall productivity.

Member of the Legislative Assembly J. Anbazhagan said the centre, estimated to cost Rs.25 crore, would result in the setting up of more software units.

M.A. Vaidialingam, MLA, said the growth of the IT industry had led to a spurt in the land prices in and around the Old Mahabalipuram Road.

The director of STPI Chennai R. Rajalakshmi assured the Minister that the centre would be constructed by December.

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