Over the past decade, Pune’s illustrious Hinjewadi Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park has witnessed a slow exodus, with 37 IT companies vanishing into the ether, leaving the State government seemingly clueless about the reasons. Amidst the heated exchanges between the government and opposition, Pune—the crown jewel of Maharashtra’s IT industry—struggles with crumbling infrastructure and a mounting traffic crisis, casting a shadow over its future as an IT hub.

The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), and Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) have worked tirelessly to develop public IT parks throughout the state. These 37 public IT parks, backed by an investment of ₹18,000 crore and employing about 2.7 lakh individuals, stand as testaments to the state’s ambitious vision.

However, the story doesn’t end there. Since the launch of the IT and ITES policy, and up until the end of October 2022, a staggering 577 private IT parks have been given the green light. Pune boasts 203 of these high-tech enclaves, with Mumbai not far behind at 186, cementing their statuses as the twin powerhouses of Maharashtra’s tech industry. Yet, despite these impressive numbers, the spectre of decline looms large over Pune, demanding urgent action to reclaim its former glory.

Bleak Reality

The government has invited private sector participation to create world-class infrastructure for the IT industry. However, the reality on the ground is bleak. The Hinjewadi IT Park, established 25 years ago, is plagued by a lack of basic infrastructure, including inadequate roads, high rent costs, unreliable water supply, poor waste management, and frequent electricity issues. According to the Hinjewadi Industries Association (HIA), these civic problems have driven 37 IT companies to move out.

Maharashtra’s Industries Minister, Uday Samant, accused the opposition of attempting to create a negative narrative by claiming that IT companies are leaving Hinjewadi IT Park due to infrastructure issues.

Samant recently addressed the issue, saying that IT companies are relocating from Pune to other parts of the state or different locations within Pune. “There is unnecessary noise about IT companies leaving Pune. We are in discussions with the HIA and will soon address these issues,” he told reporters.

However, this assurance has not alleviated the frustrations of many. “This is not the first time the government has made promises. We’ve been hearing these assurances for a decade, and nothing has changed on the ground,” said C. Pankaj, who works in Hinjewadi. “We’ve built IT parks but ignored basic needs like traffic planning. I spend more than four hours daily stuck in traffic congestion.”

The contrast between government promises and the lived experiences of IT professionals underscores the urgent need for concrete action to improve Pune’s IT infrastructure, say industry players.

New Initiative

Baramati MP Supriya Sule has pledged to make efforts to retain the companies considering leaving the Hinjewadi IT park. Sule announced plans to collaborate with the Maratha Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) to organize meetings with these firms. The objective of these meetings is to address the companies’ concerns and assure them that their operational needs will be met at the IT park.

She emphasized that retaining these businesses is crucial for generating more employment opportunities in the city and across the state.