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August 12, 1998


Maharashtra announces 'AAA' infotech policy

Email this story to a friend. Armed with a new mantra 'Empowerment through connectivity', the Maharashtra government has announced its new information technology policy with sweeping concessions to the industry that will come into force from August 15.

After the weekly cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Manohar Joshi told the press that the objective of the state government's new policy is to ensure
Come September
Maharashtra policy
''AAA connectivity'' (anytime, anyhow and anywhere).

The basic strategy is to provide a world-class IT infrastructure for the people of the state and to set up an institutional framework for taking a lead in the IT sector, he said.

Joshi explained that the policy would be formulated in such a way so as to make the people of the state highly computer literate and to produce top-class IT professionals through strong human resource development initiatives.

He hoped that the new policy, through fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, would consolidate and greatly strengthen the IT industry in the state. The policy would also computerise the citizen-government interface in order to make the government more transparent and bring it closer to the people.

Joshi said that in the next five years, computer laboratories costing Rs 1.5 million each would be set up in 637 government and semi-government secondary and higher secondary schools and wherever possible. These schools would be provided Internet connections.

Aided secondary and higher secondary schools would be encouraged to set up computer laboratories through private participation. A 'Train the teachers' programme would be implemented while degree and diploma engineering colleges would be encouraged.

He further said that his government would actively pursue with the central government the setting up of the Indian Institute of Information Technology at Pune.

Nationally and internationally reputed institutions would be welcomed to set up a software university.

The government also plans to set up a Marathi digital library at Pune.

The chief minister said public tele-information centres would be given government land on a lease of 10 years on the terms and conditions applicable to educational institutions.

They would be eligible for benefits under the package scheme of incentives.

He informed that the central government has selected Pune for locating one of its five high-tech habitats and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation would provide infrastructure support for this scheme.

Plug-and-play incubation centres would be set up at New Bombay, Pune and Nagpur. IT enabled services like the call centres would be given land by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation and the City and Industrial Development Corporation on normal terms.

A hardware park would also be set up on 400 hectares of land in New Bombay.

Joshi said his government has decided to allow the software industry in residential areas and to include it in the list of users permitted in the no-development zone.

IT parks developed by public institutions such as MIDC, CIDCO will be given 100 per cent extra 'floor space index' benefit on payment of 25 per cent premium.

He said the software industry would not require permission from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board. Eligible IT units in A, B and C areas would be entitled to benefits for D areas under the package scheme of incentives that would be modified to suit the IT industry.

Joshi added that the scheme would be in operation till 2000.

The chief minister also informed that sales tax on hardware would be reduced to 2 per cent, on software (package or off the shelf) to 1 per cent and on customised software to 0 per cent.

There will be no increase in these rates for five years. Octroi on IT products would be refunded. Electricity duty would be waived on IT units. Property transactions in designated IT parks would be exempted from stamp duty.

Similarly, there will be no stamp duty on leases and financial instruments of units in these parks. Maximum registration fee charged from these units will be Rs 1,000 and the name and goodwill tax would be applied to them.

''Maharashtra would be the first state to provide such sweeping concessions for the IT industry," Joshi said.

The government has decided to replicate the Warnanagar Project in other regions of the state. Computerisation of government departments like sales tax, revenue, health, education irrigation, PWD, computerised interface between citizens and the government by way of bulletin boards and public tele-information centres is also on the cards.

The chief minister said a directorate for information technology has already been set up. Besides, a steering committee will look into the monitoring and implementation of the Warnanagar Project under the principal secretary, general administration.

The high powered committee already set up under the chief secretary for sanctioning computerisation projects in government would be re-constituted and empowered to take decisions regarding implementation of the IT policy.

A cabinet sub-committee has already been formed and it will take final decisions in respect of the IT policy.

Joshi said Maharashtra has already achieved a leading position in the IT sector and it is the government's commitment to strengthen it and make it globally competitive.

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