Saturday, August 28, 2010

National Consultation Workshop at IIT Kanpur

Just came out of the workshop at IIT Kanpur after it ended. All 7 IITs have come together to do a Ganga River Plan under NGRBA. They have uploaded a website where there will soon be a free registration for all to contribute. The plan will build upon the failures of the old Ganga Action Plan and prescribe a new one that will not only look at pollution but also ensure involvement of the Civil Society, integrate Water Resource Management so that less water is taken out from Ganga by efficient agriculture, ensure recycling of river water and also look at socio-cultural livelihood issues.

I, on my part, highlighted 6 issues: (1) Solid Waste Management should also be looked into as some municipalities are dumping solid waste to the river (2) Funds for O&M (Operation & Maintenance) of capital structures should be provided in the plan as municipalities don't have necessary funds for this (3) Along with Civil Society, Panchayats and Municipalities should also be involved (4) Economic aspects of people staying at the banks or dependent on the river may be taken into account (5) School syllabus of EvS should contain a component of Clean Ganga and (6) the issue of water sharing with Bangladesh in lean season may be revisited.
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Mr Rajiv Gauba was there throughout (except last 40 minutes). Minister Mr Jairam Ramesh was there till lunchtime. I told him that the recent India Today story was quite flattering to him. He appeared happy and said that West Bengal was doing a good job too !   

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Victimless Crime"?

We had a stakeholders' meeting yesterday to further refine the ongoing work of defining a new urban strategy in West Bengal. In course of the presentation, the question of unauthorised constructions in the cities came up. The consultants making the presentation remarked that this was perhaps more prevalent in India because we had a 'soft' attitude to violations of Town laws and Building Rules because their violations did not harm anyone, because they were "victimless crimes".

This led me to think of a recent parliament question on this. It asked why authorities allowed unauthorised constructions to come up in the first place.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Cycle Lane in New Town to Save Energy"

This was published in "Sakalbela" newspaper of 19th August 2010. Mitali Mitra gave me a copy today. Thanks Mitali & Sakalbela.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Electrons and H2O

We had our sub committee meeting at Delhi today. We argued that in the power sector, electrons are driven by generators and distributed to homes, and inn the water sector, H2O molecules are purified by massive WTPs (Water Treatment Plants) and distributed through pipes to homes. So, if private players invest thousands of crores of rupees in the power sector, why shouldn't they do so if the water charges were regulated / subsidised by the government.
So we are going to recommend setting up of Regulatory Commissions in the water sector too.

(-Posted at Delhi Banga Bhavan)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Clean Rabindra Sarobar

The Times of India carries this picture today about an awareness campaign for keeping Rabindra Sarobar clean. You can see at the following link:

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Uluberia Water Supply

I went to see how the Uluberia Water Project was going on. This is being done by KMWSA. It will supply 10 MGD (million gallons per day). Project cost is Rs. 15 crore.
I set a target that it should be completed before November 2010.

I had an interesting discussion on whether vertical pumps or horizontal pumps were better. Technical opinion is sharply divided on this, I found. I'll try and get the opinion of the experts in Delhi on Monday when I'll be there on the 23rd.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Road near Book Fair Ground at Milan Mela

I took the Works and Tender Committee meeting yesterday at KMDA. Among other works, we gave the go-ahead signal for inviting tender for the widening of road near Milan Mela / ITC Sonar Bangla / Opp Science Centre that is used for Book Fair these days. The cost would be above Rs. 3 crores. We asked the Chief Engineer to see that it could be completed before the Book Fair began early next year.

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I went to meet the Commissioner of Police Gautam Mohan Chakraborty at Lalbazar yesterday. OSD KIT was also with me. We requested CP to spare a few flats of KIT rented out to KP at Jhorobasti near Ultadanga so that slum improvement works could be done - for which 45 families had to be shifted. CP was very positive and understanding. We decided that KIT and Estate Officer of KP would jointly work out whatever was feasible... The slum improvement would be done under the BSUP (Basic Services for the Urban Poor) component of JnNRUM.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kolkata partners with Tokyo

Today I sent a formal proposal to Govt of India suggesting that Kolkata and Tokyo may be partners in respect of water supply. This was in response to a message from Tokyo exploring the possibility of improving water supply in one or two major cities in India to Tokyo standards in collaboration with Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
I stated that in Kolkata, a large amount of water is wasted during transmission. I said that the water supply system needed technology, resources and management inputs to reach a high standard of Tokyo Waterworks.

I would wish that Kolkata will be a partner with Tokyo in the field of water supply.

Let's wait and see !

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

PPP Sub Group Meet at Delhi on 23 Aug

I incorporated the comments received so far from he members on the draft paper that I'd circulated last week. As convener of the Sub-Group, I've called the meeting on 23rd Aug at Delhi at Nirman Bhavan, Ministry of Urban Development, Govt of India.
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This week's India Today carries an article called "The Odd Couple: The State Learns to Love the Private Sector". I read it with interest as it is directly relevant to the paper that we are preparing. It has a nice, if simplistic, way of defining PPP Projects:
"... Loosely defined, it means a delivery model where the assets belong to the government and the services are provided by the private sector... "
 * * *
 Last Saturday, I had a meeting with Prof Biswanath Chakrabarty of Rabindra Bharati University. We discussed about the possibility of jointly writing a book on  "Urbanism in India". I also wanted to do papers on (i) Electronic Voting in India and (ii) Role of Political Continuity in Urban Development. Somnath De of CEO's office has already lent me the book "How India Votes" and I've started thinking. I also recalled my earlier paper at

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Energy Audit

Mr Brijesh Manan of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency informed me today that the BEE would  start an energy audit soon in our satellite town at New Town, Rajarhat. I told him that the energy audit could start at Rabi Rashmi Abasan and the DLF Building.

This is in connection with 'ZEST'

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"No reservation of flats for minority communities"

Yesterday I saw the judgment of the High Court on the matter mentioned above.

KMDA had proposed that 26% of the flats constructed by it would be reserved for minority communities like Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsees etc. It had also published a brochure. The matter was taken to Court. It was contested that such type of reservation was not contemplated in the Constitution.

The clause was deleted subsequently and the Court was informed. The Court observed as follows:

"We make it clear that the authorities can only carve out the reservation which is provided under the Constitution, such as, for socially and economically weaker section of the Society bereft of religions".

(WP No. 7445(W) of 2010)

Monday, August 9, 2010

'Growing up and being counted are no easy tasks'

I went to the Institute of Engineering and Management in Salt Lake today morning. Their new academic session started today. It was good seeing the eager faces of the new students. I was reminded of Abdul Kalam's inspiring book India 2020. In my brief address, I quoted from it and said: "Growing up and being counted are no easy tasks". I advised them to also take an interest in the functioning of India's democracy by networking in cyberspace through facebook, blog and other social networking sites for taking up social causes - in addition to their studies.
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CEO HDA met me at my office. I was told that Ms. Aditi Dass of Climate Group had been to Haldia last Friday to talk about LED streetlights. Despite the higher initial cost, I think it needs to be taken forward.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"Emerging Science & Culture; Connecting People"

I was invited at the Bose Institute, Kolkata yesterday. The book "Emerging Science and Culture: Connecting People" (edited by Prof S.C.Roy) was released as a Platinum Jubilee Commemorative Volume of the Indian Science News Association. The first article titled "Energy Security: Role of Science and Technology" is by Shri M.K.Narayanan, Governor of West Bengal. It also contains an article called "Thermal Power Generation in West Bengal" by me.

I was persuaded to write the article by my friend Dr Barun Chatterjee of the Bose Institute when I was MD, WBPDCL. Yesterday, the book launch was a sort of re-union of our Presidency batch with Barun, Swapan, Rajat, Somnath and Sarbarish - (I met Sarbarish after 27 years, after we did our post MSc from the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics). The then Director of Saha Institute, Dr Manoj Pal, was also present with us in the panel discussion yesterday and he has also contributed an article.
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As promised in my earlier post "The Light", I give below the link to the video in the You Tube:
(Thanks, Atanu, for helping me upload the video).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"The Light"

As I was walking down the corridors of Writers' Buildings yesterday, Santanu Sawaswati leaped up from his bench in the verandah and asked:"Did you see today's Sokalbela?" Of course I hadn't (I'd barely heard about its launch).
Saraswati explained that he'd published a story on a documentary video film by WBPDCL (West Bengal Power Development Corporation) called "The Light". It was a project that I'd initiated when I was in WBPDCL. I was happy to know that the docu-film was finally published. I decided to buy a copy of the newspaer Sokalbela.
I found Sokalbela quite well-printed and neat. Santanu's story had the heading "Tathyachitrer madhyamey mon joi korte udyogi PDCL". The story referred to my efforts in creating a docu-film around Anandababu when I was Chief Electoral Officer and also my initiative of flagging off the present docu-film.
Ashim of PR Wing of WBPDCL gave me a copy of the DVD. I wish to upload it in the You Tube today.

Thanks Ashim and Santanu :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Land for Urban Poor...2

I did the following today:
(a) Advised our Planners to draft a notification under T & CP Act / Rules (T&CP=Town and Country Planning) that will make it compulsory for any new residential township to dedicate 25% of the housing for the EWS/ LIG
(b) Requested Housing Department to consider amending the Promoter's Act so that all developers dedicate 25% for EWS/LIG.
(c) Advised a probable investor who had come to meet me to know the rules for setting up townships under the T&CP Act to earmark 25% housing units for the EWS/LIG and also emphasised on the need to adopt green & environment friendly techniques (I was thinking of ZEST)

 Times of India has continued its "Clean Kolkata Campaign" even today (Great). I spoke to the Project Director SWM for thinking of some citizen-centric clean initiative in Hoogly.
He will revert to me shortly.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Urban Reforms: Land for the Poor

I had a meeting with the CRISIL Infrastructure Advisory Team headed by Mr Kaustabh Basu. They are assessing how well the states are doing Urban Reforms. They will visit various Municipalities including the Kolkata Municipal Corporation from tomorrow onwards.

One of the areas in which we discussed a lot was the manner in which at least 25% of developed land in housing projects could be earmarked for the urban poor. We mentioned that in West Bengal, for the public sector or joint venture housing projects, 25% of apartments/ flats were being earmarked for the urban poor in the EWS (Economically Weaker Section) / LIG (Lower Income Group). However, to make it mandatory for the private developers as well, it is necessary to have a law. We requested Crisil to consider making a recommendation that a model law may be enacted by the Central Government.
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I liked the Times of India (Kolkata Edition) campaign on "Clean Kolkata" started today. The central idea is that besides the KMC, citizens also have a role in it. I posted the link in my facebook wall this morning and already I'm having a few comments and 'like's.
I've asked the Executive Engineer of our Department to consider installing energy efficient LED outdoor lamps in the housing estates of my department. Ms Aditi Dass of Climate Change has agreed to help. She's coming to Kolkata on 5th Aug and may look at this.