NEWS FROM STATES
Information Technology Policy of the Government of Maharashtra

Maharashtra Government's singular commitment is to strengthen the State's leading position and to make its Information Technology industry globally competitive. To give its efforts proper thrust, the Government of Maharashtra has undertaken a number of policy initiatives in the areas of HRD, Infrastructure, Incentives to the Information Technology industry and computerisation of Citizen-Government interface. These are as follows : 

l In continuation of the State's New Industry, Trade and Commerce Policy, 1995, whose Mission Statement was Empowerment of people at all levels, the Mission Statement of this Information Technology policy is Empowerment through Connectivity. 

l To achieve the above mission, it is necessary to ensure AAA connectivity, thereby leveraging the State's core competency in HRD to attain a leading position in Information Technology through strategic policy initiatives in different areas. The strategy will involve: 

i To provide all the 637 Govt., Semi Govt. Secondary Schools and Higher Secondary Schools in the state with computer labs at a cost of Rs.15 lakh each. The total expenditure on this programme is expected to be Rs.960 million in five years. 

ii To encourage Aided Secondary Schools to obtain private participation for setting up Computer Lab by permitting them commercial use of these facilities outside of school hours. 

iii To stimulate engineering institutions like degree colleges, polytechnics and other specialised teaching institutions to expand their intake for Information Technology courses in a big way. 

iv To explore a need to have a Software University to spearhead research, training and development in this area. A wealth of relavant information and knowledge needs to be made available in electronic format to the people of the state so that they can reap the real benefits of Information Technology. 

v State will set up a dedicated centre in the University of Pune for developing a Digital Library. 

vi State agencies such as MSEB (Maharashtra State Electricity Board), PWD (Public Works Department), Irrigation Department, who have rights of way will facilitate laying of fibre optic backbones by private ISPs or Telecom Service Providers. 

vii MIDC (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation) will also develop plug-and-play Information Technology entrepreneurship incubation facilities at Navi Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur to encourage first generation software professionals to start their operations quickly. 

viii A hardware Park will be set up over an area of 400 hectares in Navi Mumbai, close to the Jawaharlal Nehru Port. 

Fiscal and Non-Fiscal Incentives

A host of following fiscal and non-fiscal incentives will be offered to the Information Technology industry in the State to consolidate the state's leading position : 

l Software industry will be allowed in residential, industrial and commercial zones. It will be included as one of the permissible users in the No Development Zone. 

l 100 per cent additional FSI for Software Technology Parks set up by public bodies on payment of premium amounting to 25 per cent of the market value. 

l No MPCB (Maharashtra Pollution Control Board) clearance required for software units. 

l Under the Package Scheme of Incentives, benefits meant for industrially backward `D' areas will be extended to the Information Technology industry even in relatively advanced A, B and C areas. This scheme will be in operation till 2000 AD. 

l Sales tax on hardware will be reduced to 2 per cent, on package and off-the-shelf software to 1 per cent and on customised software to nil. These rates will not be raised for the next five years. 

l Octroi charged by local bodies on Information Technology products will be waived. 

l No stamp duty on property transactions within designated Software/Infotech Parks as well as on instruments of software companis such as lease documents, issue of shares etc. Registration charges will be Rs.1,000/- maximum. 

l Computerised interface between citizens and government by way of Bulletin Boards and Public Tele Info Centres. 

Institutional Framework

A directorate of Information Technology has already been set up. 

The High Power Committee already set up under the Chief Secretary for sanctioning computerisation projects in governments will be reconstituted and empowered to take decisions regarding implementation of the Information Technology Policy. 

A Cabinet Sub-Committee on Industrial Development has already been formed. This Committee will take final decisions in respect of the Information Technology Policy. 

Karnataka to launch smart-card operated system for govt. staff 

As part of its-governance initiative, the Karnataka government is drawing up plans to introduce a contactless smart-card-operated management information system by April 2000. 

The system is expected to cover close to 4,500 employees across all the government secretariat offices in Bangalore located across the state assembly, Ms. Building and Vishveswariah Tower. 

The smart-card-operated system (hosted on the department's computer system) will incorporate features like personnel information, payroll management, identification, library facility authorisation and access. Under the scheme, each employee would be given a personalised card free of charge.

Karnataka sets up IT task force

The Karnataka government on January 5 announced the setting up of an information technology task force designed to enhance quality of higher education and said it would also come out with a `regulatory mechanism' to control computer training institutes, according to minister for higher education, Shri G. Parameshar. 

The Committee would make recommendations to the government in order to provide the required impetus that would enhance the potential of the students of the state to compete in the global market place. 

Rajasthan offers new package for pvt. sector in wind energy generation

In a significant policy decision to mobilise capital investment ranging between Rs.450 to 500 crore by the private sector for 100 mw wind energy generation, the Rajasthan government has declared a new soft-loan package instead of sales tax incentives in this regard. 

One mw wind power generation needed investment between Rs.4.5 crore to Rs.5.0 crore. Therefore, it was hoped that this new policy package will help crystallise an investment of Rs.450 crore to 500 crore during next three years in Rajasthan. 

UP signs MoU with CMIE for financial info services

The Uttar Pradesh government has signed an agreement with Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) on February 10 to launch an information and analysis service of the financial affairs in the state. 

The first of its kind in the country the agreement is basically aimed at creating and providing regular, reliable, independent and objective information and descriptive analysis of the economy of the state with the help of private agency. 

According to the agreement the directorate of economics and statistics of the state department of planning would be the nodal agency for the purpose. The nodal agency on behalf of the state government would facilitate and co-operate between the various departments, divisions to provide information regularly as required for the services. 

Pondy announces new IT policy

The Union Territory of Pondicerry has now come out with a detailed "IT Policy". At the base, the policy aims at providing the common man an easy access to information in all spheres of life and impart training in order to increase IT literacy and creation of trained manpower. The area between Pondicherry Engg. College, in which the State's Software Technology Park (STP) has come up, and the Ashoka Hotel at Kalapet is to be declared as Hi-Tech Corridor. 

Addressing the needs of the industries, the policy aims at accelerating growth of IT industries such as hardware (computers, peripherals, telecommunications and related products), software, services and training sectors. 

For this, an Industrial Guidance Bureau (IGB) is to be set up as part of the industries department, which will function as the single window clearance agency for setting up industries, IT related companies in software, training and services sectors, which are environmental friendly, to be allowed to function in residential areas and also to be exempted from inspection by factory inspectors. 

Andhra to privatise power distribution

Andhra Pradesh is speeding up the final stage of power sector reforms, specially privatisation of distribution. 

The reforms components include : 

l The enactment of comprehensive reform legislation 

l The appointment of an independent regulator 

l A retail tariff policy based on cost-recovery and progressive reduction of the cross-subsidies; 

l The corporatisation of the operating entities and the enhancement of their managerial autonomy and; 

l The progressive privatisation of the distribution system. 

West Bengal govt. sets up Rs.100 crore fund for sick units

West Bengal government has created a corpus of Rs.100 crore for the revival of sick units and has also decided to continue with the Rs.500 per month dole to the employees of these units for two more years even if they are taken over by new promoter. 

Announcing this at the 81st anual general meeting of the Calcutta Paper Traders' Association, State Finance Minister, Shri Asim Dasgupta assured the industrialists that the state government would lend all sorts of help for the revival of these sick units. 

"At present, there are 194 sick units in West Bengal. We are the first in the country to announce a scheme for payment of doles to the employees of the closed units. It also helped us to create a data bank of these units. We have also announced that the state government will give the same incentives for the revival of these units as given to new units" Shri Dasgupta said. 

PSIEC centre to provide up-to-date trade info

Exporters, industrialists and entrepreneurs from Punjab can now access up-to-date information not available even on the Internet. To make this happen, the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation Ltd. (PSIEC), which has pressed into service a trade information centre at its office in Chandigarh has set up a computerised link-up with "The Dialog Corporation", a US-based data bank facilitating instant on-line access to Dialog and Datastar international databases. 

The Trade Information Centre which is the only centre of its kind in North India will also afford an opportunity to exporters/entrepreneurs to get the credit ratings of overseas buyers. 

Canadian IT college coming to Chandigarh

The Georgian College in Berry (Canada) a leading Canadian College will be opening a campus in Chandigarh later in September 2000, offering Canadian diplomas in computer science and business administration on Indian soil. 

The college will initially conduct three year diploma courses in computer science and business administration for undergraduate students, project administrator Mr. John Bobbette said. The Chandigarh campus will be run jointly by the Georgian College in collaboration with Worldwide Immigration Consultants (WWICS). 

"This Institute (in Chandigarh) will offer Indian students an opportunity to procure Canadian education without leaving home, making it cost effective", Worldwide spokesman Mr. Gyan Pal said. 
 

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