Monday, December 31, 2012

Hugely successful New Town Winter Festival closes

Yesterday, the 5-day Winter Fest at Rabindra Tirtha closed. It was a huge success. When I reached there at 6pm or so, all seats were occupied and many were waiting outside, patiently, enjoying the landscape and beautiful illumination. Even before I entered, I could guess from the long queue of cars parked outside that the hall must be full. Day before yesterday also the hall was full: I reached there after the inaugural function of Eco Tourism and saw the second half of a hilarious play that was being staged.
Sukumar Ray's Lakshaner Shaktishel was the last play. Brilliantly costumed children staged the play where the dialogues and sound effects were pre-recorded and the actors played out their parts with finesse. Here is a photo:
Lakshaner Shaktishel at Rabindra Tirtha on 30th Dec 12
Even as the play ended and the 5-day event drew to a close, people seemed to linger on in the hall, hesitating  before going out in the cold, away from the community called New Town into their respective homes. I mentioned that next year we could have an one-act competition. And of course, we'd have Basanta Utsav, Rabindra-Najrul celebration, Bijoya Sanmilini in between.

Many residents, while leaving, thanked us for organising this event. I am thankful to all of them.

* * *
SMPAi, Samrat's Troupe, will give a fusion performance at Eco Park at 6pm on New Year's Day. All are welcome.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Prakriti Tirtha

Eco Park was inaugurated today afternoon by Hon'ble Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee this afternoon. The Eco Park was named "Eco Tourism Park (Prakriti Tirtha)" by CM today. Here is a photo:
At Rabi Aranya, Eco Park (Prakiti Tirtha)
(Photo courtesy Chandana Roy Chowdhury)
* * *
The following three clippings appeared on Sunday's Papers:
(a) In Anandabazar:

(b) In Pratidin:
(c) In Bartaman:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Town Winter Fest Begins

The 5-day cultural event started yesterday. The first day's event lasted till 8.45pm. Many participants, in their enthusiasm, presented two or three items even if they were to do one! But people listned with attention, and that's what mattered. Here is a pic:
Inaugurating with Sabyasachi Datta, MLA
Here is the advertisement that appeared in many papers yesterday:
* * *
Here is a clipping that appeared in Times of India day before yesterday:
And, finally, a clipping from Saklbela that appeared recently:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

New Town Winter Festival : 26-30 Dec 2012

The New Town Winter Festival 2012 will start tomorrow at Rabindra Tirtha. A detailed programme has been drawn up. Response from the residents has been fantastic. Accommodating all groups was a problem and though a two hour daily programme was the target, often it has stretched the limits imposed. (And that too assuming that all performances adhere to the time slot allotted!).

Programmes will start daily by 5.30 pm at Rabindra Tirtha. Detailed programme can be seen at the following link:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Eco Park in Evenings

Here is a picture of a mural in Rabi Aranya, Eco Park, taken this evening:
Works of Tagore on burnt clay
Here is the eco park at night:

And the same stretch at day:
Here is a clipping from today's Ei Samay:

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sculpture in Action Area II

Yet another sculpture from the Sculpture Workshop has been installed. This is in Ation Area II, not far from City Centre II. Here is a photo:

Sculptor: Samir Aich
* * *
Here is a cutting from today's Times of India:


The following clipping is from Ekdin dated 28th Dec 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sculpture in Second Rotary

A statue created in the Sculpture workshop was just installed at the second rotary in New Town. This is the rotary that is just after the one that you come across after crossing the flyover near Axis Mall, travelling towards the Airport: look left. It is so massive that a crane had to be brought in from the sculpture workshop site to this rotary. In the process, a finger was damaged and a welder had to be brought in. Here is a photo that I took today afternoon:
Statue on Second Rotary: Tarak Gharai is the sculptor
 * * *
Here is a clipping from today's Ei Samay:

And a cutting from today's Bengal Post:
* * *
Here is a cutting from Khabar 365:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rs 41 crore drainage works start at Digha

Under the World Bank aided ICZM (Integrated Coastal Zone Management) programme, there are a few components. One of these is a storm water drainage network. The selected agency today started the work. It is a Rs 41 crore project and expected to be completed by 24 months. I unveiled a plaque on the ground. Here is a picture:
I also liked the new viewing gallery near Saikatabas. Here is a picture:
* * *
Here is a pair of clippings from today's Telegraph (Salt Lake):
* * *
Finally a clipping from today's Bartaman (retrieved from the web):
* * *
The Digha Beach Festival is likely to be held from 16th January. There will be two venues: One at Old Digha and one at New Digha

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow Park, Water Sports and Coffee Parlour in Digha

I reached Digha a little while ago. Today, DSDA has invited bids through publication of Expressions of Interest for:
(a) A Snow Park
(b) Water Sports and
(c) Cofee cum Ice Cream Parlour.

Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:
Tomorrow I will hold kick-off meeting on Digha Beach Festival (likely to start on 18th Jan 2012) and also flag off World Bank funded drainage scheme at Digha.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Financial Hub Phase II

Application for participation in Financial Hub in New Town Kolkata can be made in the second phase till 31st January 2012. Assocham organised a seminar on this yesterday at the Park Hotel. Minister Firhad Hakim was the chief guest. Here is a photo:
My presentation at Assocham Seminar on 18th Dec at Park Hotel
  * * *
Here is a clipping from today's Bartaman:

And a clipping from today's Times of India:
* * *
Here is a link to Hindu Business Line: 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Towards a Zero Waste City

Solid Waste Management is becoming a great issue for our cities and towns. Conventional landfill areas are getting exhausted and additional ones very difficult to locate. For Kolkata / Salt Lake / New Town Rajarhat, the problem will become more and more acute as the years pass. What is needed is therefore a concerted effort at policy level, implementation level and personalised behavioral level so that we not only emphasise the 3Rs (Reduce, Re-use and Recycle), but also use technological and managerial expertise.

Last Friday, I had a discussion with HE Mr Sanjay Wadvani, British Deputy High Commissioner of Kolkata in Hidco Bhavan and mentioned that Zero Waste is a goal that we would like to focus on.

I quote from a concept paper of UNRCD presented recently in India at the end.
* * *
Here s a clipping from today's Times of India:

* * *
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), or Rio+20 Conference, highlighted sustainable cities as one of the priority areas. Together with growing urbanization, waste management is becoming a major and growing public health and environmental concern in urban areas of many developing countries. With the diversification of waste streams worldwide as well as the growing presence of e‐waste, chemicals, hazardous and toxic elements in the general waste stream, the complexity and daunting nature of waste management challenges have gone beyond the capacity of many municipalities – in terms of finance, technology, and institutional mandate, resulting in unprecedented impact on quality of life, human health, freshwater resources and wetlands, local environment and ecosystem, including costal and marine ecosystem. Open dumping, open burning and over reliance on land‐filling is still predominant in many parts across the world and Asia, without much efforts towards prevention and minimization of wastes at first hand. At the same time, absence of effective policies and programs at city and local level and lack of required infrastructures (for collection, storage, handling/processing, treatment, recycling, waste to energy, etc.) have made most of the Asian cities beyond livable.             
In the Rio+20 outcome document, Future We Want, the Heads of State calls for increasing resource efficiency and reduction of waste to achieve green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and new and innovative public‐private partnerships to enhance capacity and technology for environmentally sound waste management. In response to this, there is a critical need for city and municipality authorities to fundamentally orient the policy directions aiming towards resource efficient and zero waste society. Zero waste has been recognized as a valuable concept to guide the cities and nations in the world. The concept of Zero Waste aims to minimize use of resources and maximize the ongoing benefits of the intrinsic value within the waste generated by society.    

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visits Eco Park

Yesterday, Hon'ble Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made an unscheduled inspection of the Eco Park in New Town Kolkata. She was on her way to the airport en-route Delhi. Minister Firhad Hakim was accompanying her in the vehicle. I explained our plans for the inauguration on 29th December. She enquired about Banglar Haat, Singing Fountains, Children's Park and Ethnic Centre on island etc. I mentioned that all of these were in various stages of planning & implementation. She also visited Hidco Bhavan - her first time - and the adjoining Rabindra Tirtha. Here is a picture of her visit to Eco Park:
Mamata Banerjee near the jetty on the waterfront of Eco Park:
14th Dec 2012
Photo courtesy: Suman Neogy's Mobile Camera
 * * *
We published an EOI today for redesigning our websites. A clipping from today's paper:

* * *
Here are two clippings that appeared recently:


Friday, December 14, 2012

Karunamoyee Bus Terminus, Salt Lake

The Karunamoyee Bus Terminus is the most busy bus exchange of Salt Lake. Not only local buses but also long distance ones commence their journeys from here. However, the area is quite dialidated and needs special repairs and renovation. From UD Department, we have just have got a technical plan and estimate prepared for this. The estimated amount is just over Rs 2 crores. I will now send it for financial sanction, make budget provisions and then ask Chief Engineering Advisor (UD) to call for tenders. These may take a little time but I hope we can start the work by this financial year.
* * *
Here are a few clippings that appeared recently:


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Banglar Haat

Today tender has been floated in newspapers inviting bids for setting up a Banglar Haat in New Town Kolkata. Architect has drawn up the concept, design and details. The idea is to show case handicrafts of Bengal to the international and national tourists coming to Bengal. The location would be by the Major Arterial Road on the road to airport so that anyone can buy products just before boarding her flight.
Here is a concept drawing by the Architect M/s Innate Group:
Concept design of Banglar Haat in New Town Kolkata

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Winter Festival in New Town

Yesterday, we had a meeting with the 30 odd housing estates / co-operatives of New Town. We talked about a possibility of holding a Winter Festival in Rabindra Tirtha by the residents of New Town. There was a great response and an Organising Committee was formed to take this forward. It was decided that the Festival may be held between 26th-30th Dec 2012 (5days) where the basic thrust would be to have entertaining group performances drawn from all units - instead of the usual 'within the campus' cultural groups. There was even a talk of staging an one act play by drawing from different areas of New Town. There was a suggestion of having a children section (quiz, sit-and-draw etc) on the lawns of Rabindra Tirtha in the afternoon.
* * *
Here is a clipping:

* * *
The first meeting of the Urban Infrastructure Task Force announced by CM while inaugurating Bengal Builds will be held tomorrow. Finance, Commerce and UD Ministers as well as Chief Secretary and concerned secretaries are members. CEO KMDA is the convener-secretary. Members of the construction-builder community are also being invited.
* * *
  The New Chairman of ADDA (Asansol Durgapur Development Authority) will be Nikhil Banerjee, MLA Durgapur. He replaces Tapas Banerjee, MLA & Mayor AMC.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Solar City New Town: Review

Yesterday I reviewed the preparation of the Project Report of Solar City in New Town. The draft report will be ready by January. I advised that there should be a component in the Report that Solar  Photovoltaic Panels may be placed over the canals of New Town including Bagjola Khal, Link Canal, Periphery Canal etc. This will protect the canal water from pollution and give us enough space to generate green energy through the solar panels on the canals.
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Bartaman:
* * *
Here is a clippig from yesterday's Khabar 365:

* * *
Here is a clipping from ToI:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Revision of Income Ceilings by Govt of India

I received memo no. I-14012/59/2005.H-II/FTS-1465 dated 14.11.2012 of Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA). This has considered the following factors:

1. CPI: Consumer Price Index
2. CFPI: Consumer Food Price Index
3. PCI: Growth in Per Capita Income
4. RESIDEX: National Housing Bank's property price tracking index
5. MWAG: Minimum Wages for Non-Agricultural Workers, and
6. MPCE: Monthly per capita expenditure.

Based on this, they have revised the income ceilings with respect to EWS (Economically Weaker Section) and LIG (Lower Income Group):

1. For EWS: Rs. 1 lakh as household income per annum
2. For LIG: Above Rs. 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh per household income per annum

Of course, this will have to be formally examined by the State Govt for adoption.
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

* * *
And here is a clipping from today's Ebela:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gangasagar also under NGRBA

At MoEF, Govt of India, Delhi , we had a meeting with Dr Rajiv Sharma Mission Director NGRBA, MrVivek Wadekar, National Project Director, Society of Integrated Coastal Management, Ms Genevieve Connors of World Bank and others about the possibility of extending NGRBA to Sagar / Gangasagar. The issue was that NGRBA is concerned about urban areas but Gangasagar is a rural area. On the other hand, we argued, Gangasagar was a major location in Ganga and should be included in the programme.
It was agreed that this would be possible in view of the special importance of Gangasagar to include projects in Sagar island but that there should be no overlap with the projects being undertaken under the World Bank assisted ICZM project.
This was a major decision that we could achieve. We will soon prepare a Concept Note and include few projects under NGRBA.
I will return to Kolkata this evening.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gate in Rabindra Tirtha

A new gate was installed in Rabindra Tirtha yesterday. Here is a photo:
Blue LED lights on gate; poem on gate
* * *
Bengal Builds ended yesterday. The Hidco stall as it stood before closing:
I delivered the vote of thanks on the conclusion of the conclave.
Here is a clipping from today's Pratidin:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Transfer Fees Reduced

The UD Department has issued notification no. 5081-UD/ O/M /SL(AL/NR) / 8L/ 2004 dated 26 Nov 2012 permission fees for transfer of leasehold land in respect of non-residential land (industrial or commercial) in Salt Lake has been reduced considerably. Earlier, the fees levied were 50% of market value. Now it is Rs 3 lakh per kottah in respect of industrial land and Rs. 6 lakh per kottah for commercial land.
* * *
Preparations for eco-park are going on in full swing. I held an inspection yesterday. Here is a photo:
Sculptor-Artist making plant pots for Eco Park
 at site of Eco Park itself
* * *
I spoke at the Bengal Builds conclave yesterday. Ministers Firhad Hakim, Partha Chatterjee and Subrata Mukherjee also spoke. Here is a photo:

* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Pratidin:
* * *
Engineering wing of UD Department is busy renovating UD Guest House at Salt Lake for making it fit for opertation of Commissions of Inquiry set up by Home Department. Here is a cutting from today's Telegraph: