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Infosys accused of cashing in on training facility
January, 19th 2012

A premier international space conference organized by the Indian Space Research Organisation from July 14 at the Infosys Technologies' massive training campus in Mysore has run into rough weather with hoteliers here charging the IT giant with violation of accommodation norms and hurting their business interests.

The bone of contention is the accommodation charge levied on delegates. Isro is charging Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000 (30 euros and 50 euros for international delegates) for single occupancy and double occupancy rooms on campus.

Hotelier and former mayor S Sathish told reporters on Tuesday that Infosys is commercialising a facility meant to accommodate employees under training. "We (hoteliers) have obtained hotel licences after paying the necessary fees. We pay luxury tax, service tax, VAT, and local body levies to run the business. But an IT company, without paying any such taxes, is using its facility as a hotel," he said.

Infosys said it had not commercialised its property. Ramdas Kamath, senior vice-president (administration), Infosys said: "We would like to reiterate that the facility offered is available only to participants of the conference and Infosys is not charging any rentals but may recover a maintenance fee from Isro for using our facility.'' The company declined to specify the maintenance fee amount.

An Isro official said it was looking into the matter. By late Tuesday evening, Isro had removed the accommodation tariff rates from the conference website and replaced it with this: "The LOC (local organising committee) has also identified a few good quality hotels in Mysore. Accommodation at the hotels in Mysore can be booked through the respective hotel websites directly."

The conference, called the Cospar Scientific Assembly, is probably the biggest gathering of space scientists in the world (Cospar is the Committee on Space Research). The conference is being held in India after three decades. Some 3,000 are expected to attend the week-long event.

It's said permission to hold the conference at the Infosys Mysore campus was given by its chairman emeritus NR Narayana Murthy a couple of years ago. Isro is keen on it because the country doesn't have many facilities which can accommodate 3,000 people (the Mysore campus has 10,120 rooms and only a portion of this currently accommodates trainees). Besides, the cost would have been more reasonable than other commercial facilities.

Even then, organising this conference is expensive and some funds expected from the Indian government reportedly did not arrive and this may have compelled Isro to charge delegates for the rooms.

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