Silicon Valley 6.0

Written by Ajay Sukumaran | Updated: Sep 18 2013, 07:46am hrs
In its move to decongest Bangalore, the Karnataka government is drawing up plans to develop a cluster of towns around the city, designed to attract new investments into the region. The R2,100-crore proposal, which recently received an in-principle approval from the Centre, is aimed at creating a hub-and-spoke model that would consolidate the citys growth, something on the lines of the satellite towns in the National Capital Region.

Infrastructure in Bangalore has been struggling to keep pace during the decade of high growth between 2001 and 2010, a period in which the number of IT companies more than doubled to 2,200 from the previous decade. Last fiscal, the information and communication technology (ICT) sector in Karnataka had revenues of R135,000 crorearound 35-40% of the countrys overall software services exportsmost of it coming from Bangalore.

Bangalores IT industry is currently spread out within a 20 km arc along the citys south-east border while a large industrial cluster is located in Peenya at its northern end. The city cluster economic development project will study the feasibility of small towns such as Nelamangala, Anekal, Devanahalli, Hoskote, Harohalli, Bidadi, Magadi and Dabaspet, all located within a 40 km radius from Bangalore, in a bid to create new locations with urban infrastructure that can lead investment and not lag it.

We are at a very initial stage. We are working on a feasibility study of each location and it has to be done in collaboration with the industry, said Darpan Jain, managing director of the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation (KUIDFC), an agency under the department for urban development. Jain, who expects the planning phase of the project to take at least 18 months, said the location of the clusters and the industry sectors which need to

be included are still at a tentative stage. The government is

also considering the option of private-public participation in the project.

These will be growth centres, so the pressure on Bangalore will be reduced, said P N Srinivasachary, principal secretary, Karnataka urban development department. The government will approach the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) for a loan for the project, he said.

Among these towns, Bidadi already houses an automotive cluster around the Toyota Kirloskar Motor plants located near the town. Automotive component maker Bosch Ltd has

also set up its manufacturing

facility there.

Through the cluster city project, KUIDFC is eyeing an approach that will dovetail infrastructure projects being undertaken by various other departments, across sectors. We are actually going to prepare a new master plan, in terms of the flow of investment, said Jain. For instance, one of the key projects in the Bangalore region proposed a few years ago is a 10,000 acre IT Investment Region (ITIR) at Devanahalli, around 36 km north of Bangalore where the city's international airport is located. The Karnataka government has now started the preliminary process of acquiring land for the project which had been delayed because of controversies surrounding the land acquisition.