With numerous IT initiatives being taken across the country to make India digital, Webel is planning to develop several Technology Parks in the State of West Bengal. Managing Director of the State Government undertaking, Upender Jit Singh, in conversation with Dr Ravi Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, eGov magazine, talks about how these parks will prove to be a huge factor in the digital progress of West Bengal, in particular, and the country, in general.
What role does the West Bengal Electronics Industry Development Corporation Ltd (Webel) play in the government sector?
Webel is the nodal agency for promotion of IT and electronics in the State. We are promoting electronics manufacturing through our Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMCs). We have two large EMCs in Naihati and Falta, spread over 70 acre and 50 acre plots, respectively. These are large clusters meant to promote electronics.
Investors, who want to start their manufacturing facility, can easily come and start their units here. It’s a plug and play. In addition to this, we also have software technology parks on similar lines at most of the district. We will have eight IT Parks ready.
Apart from that, we have hardware technology parks, where we are planning to create hardware blocks. Further, there are various complex projects that we have undertaken. The State Wide Area Network Project has been undertaken and implemented by us. The network is now seven-eight years old, and we will be replacing the obsolete projects gradually.
Also, the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) will be taken up to the district and block levels. This is being rolled out as part of the ‘Digital India’ initiative. We also have the State Data Centre, where we have about 50+ applications running for various departments, and the State Wide Area Network (SWAN) project.
We also offer ISP services to our customers and work on large campus LAN/ WAN projects on account of our expertise in SWAN. We also have a full-fledged software development team. Another added advantage is that we offer training courses, too.
What other initiatives has Webel taken up?
We have a division called Medical Equipment Maintenance Centre (MEMC), through which we maintain and provide solutions for medical equipment. We have Webel Electronics Communication Limited, along with other nine subsidiary companies. We are planning to start a Cyber Security Network Audit division. There are lots of departments approaching us f o l lowing their concern over vulnerability of their websites and other networks. So, we are planning to resolve such issues and come out with this initiative soon.
How do you manage financial resources for working on the projects?
Webel being a state nodal agency gets funding from state and centre for implementing e-gov & MMP projects. We are a large company with over 400 employees. Earlier, we had a number of factories, where we used to manufacture TV, etc. It was about 14 years back; today, we are a much diversified group covering various Information Technology offerings.
Do you take up projects from outside Bengal also?
Yes, we do. In fact, a lot of business comes from outside West Bengal. For example, we have picked up projects from the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC). Similarly, we have done the Aadhar card project for 11 states. We have also been working in the Northeast and in Bangalore, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
What is your vision for Webel?
It’s a diverse organisation and we would like to build up expertise and skills in technologies in areas where customers would require services in the coming times. We would develop skills on Big Data Intelligence as well as Network Audit. In addition to this, we would also like to participate in projects like developing smart cities. The Government has already identified 100 high-tech cities.
We are planning to start a Cyber Security Network Audit division. A lot of departments are approaching us following their concern over vulnerability of their websites and other networks. So, we are planning to resolve these kinds of issues and come out with this initiative soon
There will be projects with multiple building blocks, with overall umbrella being smart cities. For each of these small blocks, we will build up solutions and expertise areas and then participate. We plan to develop skill solutions. There are so many things coming up and we would like to equip ourselves with new skills to avail of the upcoming opportunities in the market.
Where do you expect most major projects to come from?
As the Indian economy grows, the government be it the state or the centre, is going to be a large investor in the country. They are going to invest very heavily into technology as well as infrastructure development in the country. Lot of investments are happening in the highways and ports development. Even the Railways have earmarked one lakh crore rupees budget for upgradation. So, a lot of investments are being made by the government departments. I have never witnessed this kind of investment in the past. This is the right time for a company like ours to look at large projects and initiatives, and to deliver our skills to the government.