City of Joy to City of Gold

By Leena Ghosh
Kolkata is known for many things. It’s the city of joy, of culture and music. Where food equals poetry, Rabindra Sangeet thrives alongside rock and to live is to celebrate life without an occasion. It is also the only city where people can choose between a metro ride and a tram route. But when it comes to ranking Kolkata in terms of urban development or as a popular IT hub, the city lags behind Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and even Hyderabad and Pune. But few people believe Kolkata holds great promise. Reputed journalist and columnist Aakar Patel wrote in a daily publication, “If you were to close your eyes and imagine the city without its grubby occupants, Kolkata actually has the finest infrastructure of any Indian city. Options for getting around the city include a Metro (not found in Mumbai), local trains (not found in Delhi), taxis (not found in Bangalore), trams (not found anywhere in India) and hand-pulled rickshaws (not found anywhere in the world). The problem is only that all this great infrastructure is poorly managed. And actually it is very easily remedied.”

Now, few industry leaders are also buying into the Kolkata story. Here’s how

Upcoming Hotels

There always has been a demand for hotel rooms in the city, but over the years, the supply has fallen short. To meet the crunch, Kolkata is all set to welcome new hotels, mostly located in New Town. New Town, also known as Rajarhat, is an extension of Kolkata complete with high-rise buildings, state-of-the-art infrastructure and sleek roads.

Four hotels are slated to come up in New Town by 2012. The list includes 200-room Novotel, 323-room Westin, 250-room Courtyard by Marriott and 150-key Best Western adjoining Swissotel.

Other upcoming hotels in the city include Gateway Hotel By Taj, ITC Luxury Collection, Golden Tulip Hotel, Pride Hotel and two hotels by the Sarovar group at the airport.

Situated in business core of the Kolkata city, 153-room Pride hotel is located in close proximity to the impending IT Hub of Kolkata. Says Pankaj Gupta, GM of Pride Hotel, “The occupancy rate of hotels has always been high in Kolkata, however there was a shortage of hotels in the city. So you see many hotels coming up in Rajarhat, which is where all the IT companies are. We can’t compare Kolkata to Delhi or Mumbai, but the hospitality sector is growing here.”

Upcoming IT hub

The fact that IT biggies Infosys and Wipro have been planning to set up bases in Kolkata is old news. According to reports, both companies plan to invest a sum of Rs 500 crores in Rajarhat. The tech moguls have reportedly claimed 50 acres each in Rajarhat and are likely to spend more than Rs 250 crore each on their projects. While Wipro is planning to set up its second unit, this will be Infosys’ first centre in the city. According to techies in the city, Kolkata has the potential to host IT biggies as the city has the lowest manpower attrition rate. However, they believe it has a long way to go before catching up to the IT cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Debasis Mullick, Founder Director of Semaphore Computers Pvt Ltd, Kolkata says “In my opinion though Kolkata started late in IT development, a lot of esteemed IT company’s are investing in this sector in Kolkata and many professionals are getting into it. However, the nature of the jobs executed from Kolkata is mostly routine maintenance and less challenging in terms of technology. Kolkata has the lowest manpower attrition rate than rest of India, and this is the most lucrative scenario for the IT companies.”

Jayanta Das, Software Engineer said “Kolkata is already an IT Hub but it lacks compared to Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad because it needs more participation from larger IT companies in order to open various scopes for IT professionals.”

While Kolkata may have to wait a few years before it becomes one of the frontrunners in the race to becoming the most preferred business destination, the people of Bengal believe that the city’s worth is its weight in gold. After all, it’s Sonar Bangla

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