Water Crisis: Kerala writes to top IT firms in Bengaluru, offers office space

Kerala has approached top tier technology companies in Bengaluru, requesting them to consider the coastal state for expansion after reports emerged of a water crisis in the country’s tech hub.

“After we read reports of the water crisis in Bengaluru, we wrote to the IT companies offering them all facilities as well as plenty of water. We have 44 rivers, big and small, in our state, so water is not an issue at all,” Kerala Industries & Law Minister P Rajeeve told ET on Tuesday.

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Bengaluru, being the hub of India’s $254 billion by revenue IT industry, is said to be grappling with a daily water shortage of about 500 million litres with the onset of summer.

The Prestige Group has built a tech park in Kochi with a built-up area of 8.5 lakh sq.ft and Brigade Group is building a similar park in Thiruvananthapuram. Infopark at Kochi has both its own facilities and those built by private developers Brigade, Carnival, Lulu Group and Asia Cyber Park. The state has four international airports, besides good road, rail and port connectivity, the minister said.

The government has set up a dedicated team to pursue the state’s request for investments, Rajeeve said, while refusing to divulge names of companies his officials have written to. “We are in discussions with some of them,” he said.

“We want to develop our entire state on the lines of Silicon Valley. We have several advantages to host the tech sector, including a vast talent pool of technology graduates,” Rajeev said.

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While the State is home to three established facilities Infopark (Kochi), Technopark (Thiruvananthapuram) and Cyberpark (Kozhikode), the government would set up smaller tech parks in the proposed corridors to support fresh investments, the minister said. “We will develop small IT parks with connectivity and other infrastructure.”In a recent chat with ET, Dinesh Nirmal, senior vice president (products) at IBM Software, said Kochi was the fastest growing lab for the multinational giant in India, having doubled its capacity in about 30 months. IBM’s investments and expansion in Kochi, he said, would fuel further investments by other tech firms, leading to creation of high-paying jobs. With Watson Orchestrate, an AI-based digital labour solution, `Made in Kochi’ was now a reality. “This is a software purely made out of Kochi which will be used by large corporations worldwide,” the California-based top executive said.

One million workers

The state is chasing an ambitious goal to take its headcount of workers employed by the tech sector to one million in five years.

There are about 2.5 lakh people employed in the tech parks, owned by both government and private sector, across the state. The government aims to take this fourfold, Rajeeve added.

As part of this grand plan, the government has planned four IT corridors along the national highway 66 that runs along the coast. The corridors are planned at the stretches between Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam, Cherthala and Ernakulam, Ernakulam and Koratty and Kozhikode and Kannur.

The government, the minister, was establishing science parks under the leadership of universities. India’s first digital university will come up at Thiruvananthapuram. The government would set up a digital science park in Thiruvananthapuram and three more science parks at Kannur, Kerala and Kochi (KUSAT) university campuses. All these parks will focus on new tech related industries.

There are about 5,000 startups registered under the state’s startup mission, which were estimated to create 10,000 jobs.


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