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New IT policy latest bone of political contention (Kerala Newsletter)

Source : IANS
Last Updated: Sat, Oct 13, 2012 08:00 hrs

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 13 (IANS) Kerala's ruling Congress and opposition Left are warring again, this time over the new IT policy. While Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) veteran V.S. Achuthanandan says it favours big players, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy believes that the CPI-M opposes anything and everything proposed by the Congress.

The new policy has not yet been officially released, but former chief minister Achuthanandan has a copy and says it would be detrimental to the interests of the state. Achuthanandan has warned the Chandy-led government that it must be prepared for a long-drawn-out protest if it does not rewrite the policy.

"This new IT policy is going to benefit only the big players. It will be a goldmine for real estate players as the earlier concept of an IT park is making its way for an IT township," Achuthanandan told reporters.

The draft policy, released a few months ago, had said the state-run e-governance programme would be using Free Software. "But in the final IT policy, there is no mention of it. Instead, it says it would be run using Microsoft and SAP, which will not augur well for the state," said Achuthanandan.

"And when it comes to the IT township, land near water bodies is going to be sold out. During our time (2006-11), we had clear-cut guidelines that land given for setting up projects was meant only for that. But the new policy says in the IT townships, there would be flats, villas, hotels, theatres and even boat clubs," he added.

Chandy retorted that it had become a habit for the CPI-M to oppose anything and everything first and years later realise its folly.

"In the early 1990s, when I was finance minister, they ransacked a government office because that office took up computerisation first. Today the situation is such that all of them now carry laptops. The same was the case when they opposed tractors in the 1970s and also when it came to beginning self-financing professional colleges, they did the same," said Chandy.

He added that there was nothing secret about the new policy that would be unveiled at the appropriate time.

Achuthanandan had stalled the mega Kochi Smart City IT project for close to five years when he was chief minister. The project was delayed with differences of opinion surfacing between the state government and Dubai Smart City, which is to implement the project.

"If that project had been cleared in 2006, by now at least 25,000 new jobs would have been created. Even though - after this government assumed office in May last year - the global economic scenario has changed drastically, one has to wait and see how this project will shape up now," said a top IT official on condition of anonymity.

Achuthanandan's threat of playing spoilsport against the new IT policy comes at a time the state's total IT software exports is around Rs.3,000 crore, far lower than the performance of the neighbouring states. This, despite the state unveiling the first full-fledged IT park of the country at the Technopark campus here in the mid-1990s as well as the Infopark campus at Kochi.

The IT industry in the state employs around 45,000 professionals.

(Sanu George can be contacted at sanu.g@ians.in)




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