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Why is Infosys buying so much land?
George Iype
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July 25, 2006
Ten thousand employees work in the twin buildings for Bell South in America. More than 5,000 work in a single office complex for AT&T. Then why does Infosys [Get Quote] need thousands of acres of land? If Wipro [Get Quote] and IBM can work out of rented offices in Bangalore, why can't Infosys?' writes an angry blogger about Infosys.

It is not just bloggers, many people in Bangalore say they fail to understand why the software giant is acquiring land not just in Bangalore, but all over India.

Infosys is today said to be the largest owner of land among IT companies in India, and not everyone is happy about this. Last year, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda took on Infosys, levelling charges of 'land grabbing', accusing the company of doing little for Bangalore's growth as an IT hub.

So why does Infosys need so much land?

Officially, Infosys says the company believes in building its own facilities to enhance productivity and maintain a young, collegial culture for the organisation.

Infosys' global headquarters and campus at the Electronics City, Bangalore, is the world's single largest software development facility among IT services companies. The company has large campuses and facilities at various development centres in India.

These centres are equipped with the latest technology and solutions for enterprise networking, office productivity, collaborative software engineering, and distributed project management. They also include facilities for ongoing education, fitness, sports, and multi-cuisine cafeterias.

How many acres of land does Infosys own?

The company declined to reveal the figure, saying it is "in the silent period before the quarter results."

But rough estimates -- provided by sources at Bangalore-based builder Sobha Developers [Get Quote], the real development firm that is in charge of executing Infosys campuses -- indicates that the company owns hundreds of acres of land across India, where it has built, and is continuing to build, huge campuses.

"Is Infosys a real estate company or an IT firm? I fail to understand why they are greedy for land," says agitated social activist K Krishna Raghav, who supported an agitation by farmers who protested against the Karnataka government's decision to give land to Infosys reportedly at a throwaway price in Bellandur, a village on the outskirts of Bangalore.

"Why does Infosys need lots of land? Why do they need a golf course at their campus when people do not have living space in Bangalore?" asks Raghav.

Two years ago, Infosys came under attack from villagers in Bellandur who alleged that the IT major was buying wetland at rates much lower than prevailing market rates.

According to the villagers, the price of land in the Bellandur area ranged from Rs 40 lakh (Rs 4 million) to Rs 1.5 crore (Rs 15 million) in 2003. But the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board agreed to sell 100 acres to Infosys at a uniform rate of Rs 9 lakh (Rs 900,000) per acre. However, it was not executed because of the controversy.

Currently, Infosys owns only 80 acres of land in Bangalore where it employs nearly 25,000 people.

But the company has applied for 845 acres of land on the outskirts of Bangalore and requested KIADB to acquire the land after securing zoning requirements from the government and complying with the law. The land is being acquired on a consent basis and after paying the market price to the landowners.

The land in Bangalore has been sought as two different plots. On one plot of land, a software development center will be set up, which will generate employment for 25,000 people.

The second plot of land is being sought, a short distance away, to provide residential facilities for our employees and to set up essential amenities like a school and a hospital. This will provide Infoscions with a better quality of life and avoid long commutes.

Both the plots will be fully utilised for the purpose of the company as per the government requirements, with a proposed investment of Rs 1,500 crore (Rs 15 billion), in the first phase.

"Does Infosys need to provide more than 1,500 square feet of office space per employee?" asks Reghu Kumar, a Janata Dal-Secular politician in Bellandur. "They have built a golf course on their campus while people do not have any place to sleep in the city," said Kumar, whose party, the JD-S, rules Karnataka in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The second largest Infosys campus, after Bangalore, will be in Hyderabad. The company is building a huge campus in the city spread over 550 acres of land. Infosys already has a campus over 50 acres in Hyderabad. Early this year, the Andhra Pradesh government sold 550 acres of land to Infosys at Rs 12 lakh (Rs 1.2 million) per acre: a low price in booming Hyderabad.

Infosys officials say the company is acquiring so much land because it is strapped for space. The company these days is building an additional space of 31,76,400 square feet at various development centres across India.

So where, in India, is Infosys building space?

Bangalore: The Electronic City is the company's global headquarters. It is the world's single largest software development facility among IT services companies.

Two software development blocks of 426,000 sq ft with 4,130 seats and a Multimedia Centre of 26,000 sq ft with 110 seats have already been completed at the Bangalore centre.

In addition, a software development block of 196,000 sq ft with 2,500 seats, a food court of 61,000 sq ft, an employee care centre of 264,000 sq ft and a multi-level car park of 310,000 sq ft are under construction. The existing capacity at the Infosys Bangalore campus comprises 20,84,836 sq ft with 14,465 seats.

Pune: Last year, two software development blocks of 250,000 sq ft, with 2,400 seats, were completed in Pune. A food court of 50,000 sq ft and two software development blocks of 374,000 sq ft with 3,000 seats, are under construction.

Together, the Infosys campuses in Pune have a built-up area of 848,647 sq ft. with 5,931 seats.

Bhubaneswar: A software development block of 95,000 sq ft, with 800 seats, and an employee care centre of 100,000 sq ft, have already been completed. Currently, a software development block of 139,000 sq ft, with 1,300 seats, is under construction.

The campus has a built-up area of 384,000 sq ft with 2,000 seats.

Chennai: An employee care centre of 75,000 sq ft has been completed. Currently, the campus has a built-up area of 496,317 sq ft with 2,976 seats. For the second campus in Chennai, work is under construction for two software development blocks of 250,000 sq ft, with 2,400 seats and a food court of 50,000 sq ft.

Hyderabad: A software development block of 154,000 sq ft of 1,100 seats has been completed. Civil works are in progress for the Enterprise Solutions University, including employee care facilities, of 300,000 sq ft. Currently, the campus has a built-up area of 616,000 sq ft with 3,965 seats.

Mysore: The 441,000 sq ft Global Education Centre, capable of training 4,500 professionals at a time, an employee care centre of 110,000 sq ft, 2,350 residential rooms of 110,000 sq ft and a food court of 36,000 sq ft, have been completed.

Two software development blocks of 420,000 sq ft, with 4,200 seats, 258 residential rooms of 141,900 sq ft, a food court of 39,000 sq ft and a multiplex building of 56,000 sq ft are under completion. Currently, the campus has a built-up area of 2,206,630 sq ft with 1,734 seats and can train and house 4,500 employees.

Mangalore: Infosys is buying 25 acres of land in Mangalore for expanding. Plans to invest Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion) in the Mangalore centre, which has topped in customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction among other Infosys centres.

The Mangalore centre, which celebrated its 10th anniversary, recently has grown from 20 employees in 1995 to more than 1,600 employees currently, servicing over 42 clients across the United States, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Chandigarh: Work is in progress for a software development block of 330,000 sq ft with 3,100 seats, a food court, a health club and employee care centre of 1,74,500 sq ft.

Thiruvananthapuram: Interiors have been completed in the leased space of 22,000 sq ft, with 220 seats. Infosys has acquired 50 acres of land to build its own facility in Thiruvananthapuram.

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