Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Meeting with Roberto Zagha

I met Mr Roberto Zagha, Country Director of World Bank in India yesterday in Kolkata. We discussed about the possibility of reviving the Secondary Cities Project and also co-financing of the Kolkata Riverfront Development Project. We also talked of looking at Kolkata's rejuvenation anew. I was interested to know that the FAR of New York was 11.4 while we have in Indian cities FARs around 2 or so: thus the cities were "chapati cities", to quote Mr Zagha.


  1. Sir,
    We must get the roads of the city right, and when I say right I mean that the road should of all weather type, and comparable to that of NCR.
    We have to get the roads right as they make the first and a lasting impression in the minds of a visitor. We must have a transparency in the engagement process of the contractors and engaging the services of project management consultant would be most desirable.

  2. Sir,
    Riverfront development has to be planned keeping in mind certain critical aspects, which include:
    • Development of public/ green spaces.
    • Create aesthetically beautiful architectural bodies.
    • Identify city landmarks by the river
    • Development of tourism and recreation and other public facilities along the river
    • Make the river more accessible and thereby increasing the traffic flow
    • Create continuous linear access and a network of green spaces along the river bank
    • Highlight the long and varied history and culture of the city
    • A comprehensive water management plan, incorporated in order to achieve self sustainability
    • Sustainable commercial / retail development along the river bank.
    • To promote the site area as a self sustainable zone
    • To provide a better infrastructure provision through riverfront development and a shared market infrastructure
    • To provide a comprehensive planned area where commercial spaces, residential units as well as community centres would operate in harmony
    • Increase revenue of KMDA/KMC annually by expanding the property base
    • Stimulate economic growth, especially along the bank of the river by providing proper infrastructure
    • Creating employment (direct and indirect) and involve local people in various developmental activities
    • Trigger new private investment
    • Encouraging symbiotic relationship between organizing committees, and local urban development communities to beautification of the river bank
    • Addressing regional community development through revenue generation and employment

  3. New York city land use:
    Apart from FAR, height factor (HF), and open space ratio (OSR) are two factors NYC zones per Zoning Resolution. The max floor area ratio in each district is obtained for a building with a specific height factor with combination with a specific open space ratio. That often resulting in a tall, low-coverage building set back from the surrounding streets.
    UD minister mentioned development of smaller cities at West Bengal, but, at least at newspaper report in TOI today does not report on any discussion about Newtown development with World Bank team.( - may be purpose of these meetings were different.

  4. Its really good to know that there is an apparent prospect of securing WB funds for the riverfront project. Just today I was enquiring at the PPP Cell the earlier attempts at financing the project, the recommendation for an SPV with representation of KoPT and other agencies, etc...seems the multiplicity of stakeholders and KoPT's land policy have to be negotiated. It would be great to see the riverfront come alive. But may be need an overall improvement in the quality of civic life to complement that!
    As for NYC, I had read this nice paper in EPW some years back where they pointed out that NYC has not compromised on public spaces. We in India already suffer from a lack of public spaces. High FARs may be great only when we have spaces for our children to play, our elderly to congregate...May be decentralised development is the key, where the secondary cities programme can again contribute...

  5. I got an email from Mr Zagha today that contained an informal note. I quote a portion from it regarding 'chapati cities in India':-
    ...Furthermore, India's urbanization is extremely voracious in land. Draconian regulations prevent the densification of cities (densification is what makes urbanization efficient). Indian cities are highly inefficient as a result, and insufficient densification is one of the forces behind the high incidence of slums. For comparison's sake, the Floor Space Index in New York city is 11.4 but only 1.3 in Mumbai. Besides being at the origin of cities which are not economically efficient and develop as "chapatis" (flat and thin), this system is also subject to considerable abuse....

  6. Here is a link to Times of India article that appeared today (5.9.2011):

  7. FINANCE OUTLOOK comes up with all the detailed survey and ground reports regarding any Greenfield or Brownfield Project. Thus giving you sound and wise knowledge about the contemporary conditions and the circumstances that may pop-up in future. Project consultant in india

  8. I was not sure where to post this, but a topic related to UD...I remember you mentioning about low Floor Space Index in one of earlier post compared to Newyork...hence decided to use that as placeholder of this exclusive chat with MoUD, Mr. Kamal Nath on DNA today. Also note the move give special status to Mumbai for relaxing costal regulatory zone rules.

    "“The FSI might vary across metros.”
    Though the minister did not want to go into specifics, a source in the urban development department said the government was thinking of raising the FSI to 4. At present, the FSI in Mumbai is 1.33 (one needs to pay a premium, though)."
    Special CRZ Rule for Mumbai:

    IBN also had some report: