April 30, 2007

Chandigarh Aims to be New IT Hotspot

Fed up with traffic snarls and scarred roads, a software engineer in India's flagship IT hub of Bangalore took to the streets in protest last year—doodling on his laptop while trotting along on a bullock-cart.

While Bangalore continues to host the bulk of India's IT business and is home to more than 1,500 top firms, poor roads and traffic woes are now pushing IT firms to look beyond Bangalore—to newer cities like Chandigarh, hundreds of miles north.

Chandigarh is joint capital of Punjab and Haryana—better known as India's "breadbaskets". The city is now taking tentative steps to become a new corporate destination.

"The IT industry is excited about Chandigarh's potential as an emerging IT destination," said Kiran Karnik, president of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), India's top trade body for the IT industry.

"Already, many IT companies have begun operations there or have plans of doing so, making it one of the new 'hot spots' for the IT industry," he told Reuters by email.

Infosys, India's second-largest software company, was among the first to move here and began full operations from its complex spread over 30 acres in the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park (RGCTP).

The office currently employs about 1,500 people and plans for more than 5,000 staff to work in the glass-walled building.

At least 13 other companies operate from the 123 acres of the park, including Wipro Ltd., Bharti Airtel, Tech Mahindra, and eSys.

"When fully functional in the next few years, the park is expected to have 25,000 IT professionals," said Chandigarh's IT director Manjit Brar. "It will be the IT hub of north India."

Current investment in the park, located on the outskirts of the city, is 7 billion rupees and in two years it is expected to touch 30 billion rupees, Brar said.


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