The Centre’s decision to scrap the much-anticipated Information Technology Investment Region (ITIR), proposed to be established in Hyderabad, has further widened differences between the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the Union government.
On July 29, Union minister of state for electronics and information technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, communicated to the Telangana government that the ITIR project stands cancelled, triggering strong protests from the state.
The Center conveyed to the state government that the objectives of the ITIR policy could be better served and achieved by direct promotion of industrial units in industrial clusters and industrial townships that are taking shape through various programs such as Smart Cities and other Industrial and Electronics Park schemes. .
This is nothing but betraying the people of the state. The Center has not come out with any projects that are on par to compensate for the ITIR project,” Telangana information technology and industries minister KT Rama Rao said on Sunday.
The ITIR project for Hyderabad was sanctioned during the combined Andhra Pradesh regime by the then Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2008.
The project was proposed to be established in 202 square kilometers of area in and around Hyderabad ₹4,863 crore to be borne entirely by the Center in different phases. It was proposed to bring in vast areas of Hyderabad, including the existing IT campuses under the Cyberabad Development Authority, Gachibowli, Madhapur and extended to areas in Hyderabad airport and most of the western parts of the city including Mamidipalli, Raviryala, Adibatla, Maheshwaram, Uppal and Pocharam.
The ITIR was to include special economic zones, industrial parks, free trade zones, warehousing zones, export-oriented units, growth centers and existing settlements, among other services.
“It will be a self-contained integrated knowledge cluster dedicated to the establishment and growth of IT, ITeS and electronics units,” said the detailed project report submitted by the state government to the Center in 2010.
The project report said the ITIR would expect to result in direct revenues of ₹3.11 lakh crore, growth of IT exports to the tune of ₹2.35 lakh crore, direct employment for 1.5 million people and an increase in tax revenue to the state to the extent of over ₹30,000 crores over 25 years.
The Center finally approved the ITIR project on November 13, 2013, and released an amount of ₹165 crore for the development of external infrastructure along with other utilities in the first phase.
However, the project was put on the back burner with the bifurcation of combined Andhra Pradesh in June 2014 and the change of government at the Center in 2014. Subsequently, the newly formed Telangana government began pursuing the project in September 2014.
“We have written letters to the Center regularly to follow up on the ITIR project, requesting it to expedite the works, but there was no response. Whenever chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Union ministers, he made multiple representations, but there was no positive response from the Centre,” KTR, as the state IT minister is called, said.
He said the state suggested that the Center could announce any scheme that would boost Hyderabad’s IT sector, along the lines of the ITIR project. Now, the Center says the ITIR was scrapped because the latter had sanctioned smart cities and industrial corridors to Telangana. But nothing of that sort has happened,” he said.
KTR pointed out that recently, the Center sanctioned software parks in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, Punjab, Jharkhand and Kerala. “Not a single park was sanctioned to Telangana,” he alleged.
KTR said despite the lack of assistance and cooperation from the Centre, Telangana’s IT ecosystem would have grown leaps and bounds had the ITIR been implemented. During 2021-22, Telangana recorded IT and ITES exports worth ₹183,569 crore, compared to ₹145,522 crore in the previous year, an increase of 26.14%.
“The employment in the IT/ITeS sector has also increased by 23.78% to reach 778,121 during the 2021-2022 period by adding 149,506 new jobs. At the time of the formation of Telangana, the IT exports were ₹57,258 crores and the IT employment was 323,397,” he said.
“As per the ITIR estimates, the IT exports for the state (combined state of AP) were supposed to reach ₹209,221 crore by 2035. Going with our progress rate, Telangana IT Exports will cross the 2035 projections by 2025, though there is no ITIR,” the minister added.