Our Bureau

Bangalore, Oct. 17

THE Chairman of Infosys, Mr N.R. Narayana Murthy, and the former Prime Minister, Mr H.D. Deve Gowda, appeared headed for a confrontation over Bangalore's infrastructure issues. The industry, however, doesn't seem keen on taking sides this time. Sources said that this latest outburst could be heading towards a showdown between the two stalwarts.

It may be recalled that the IT industry under various associations had recently threatened to boycott the BangaloreIT.in over the crumbling infrastructure in the city. The industry withdrew its boycott plans after the Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr N. Dharam Singh, gave an assurance that the infrastructure would be improved.

Mr Murthy along with Mr Ramesh Ramanathan, convenor of Janagraha, an NGO, had made a presentation to Mr Gowda, Mr Singh and his team of colleagues and officials on October 15, suggesting shifting the focus in the State to urban governance and setting up urban bodies on the lines of gram sabhas.

Unimpressed with Mr Murthy's suggestion, Mr Gowda, also the head of the Janata Dal (S), a coalition partner in the State, cautioned the Chief Minister on October 16 on taking a final decision over the allotment of 845 acres of land that Infosys has sought on the outskirts of Bangalore to set up a development centre and a residential township. "This will not only attract public criticism, but also bring discredit to the Government," Mr Gowda said in a letter to Mr Singh.

Mr Gowda sought details of the land allotted to various IT companies, including Infosys. He alleged that a number of companies, including a few IT firms, had not fully utilised the Government land allotted to them for real estate purposes. Mr Gowda also alleged that there was a malicious campaign from some quarters in the IT sector to brand the coalition Government as anti-IT.

Mr Gowda had also sought details of employment generated by such companies, including Infosys, which have taken Government land, and compared it to other IT firms such as Wipro, HP and IBM, that have not been provided any Government land.

"I am sure companies like Wipro, Intel, Accenture, IBM, HP and Honeywell, which have not been allotted Government land and functioning mostly in rented buildings, account for more than 85 per cent jobs provided by the IT firms in Bangalore," he said.

However, on Monday, Infosys maintained a silence over Mr Gowda's remarks

"We are still assessing and will make comments at the appropriate time," sources at Infosys said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 18, 2005)
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