Thursday, May 31, 2012

Corridor Development at Raghunathpur

Raghunathpur is close to Asansol. Already DVC is constructing a 660x2 MW power plant. There are two Industrial Parks planned too. Most importantly, the rail and road connections and proximity to mines and Asansol make it a good candidate for developing it as a planned township with a focus on industry. A planning exercise has started. I went to Raghunathpur yesterday and had a detailed planning exercise with DM, SDO, BDOs, MLA, DVC and Railways. MARS, the agency, made a presentation. I thought that the corridor from Asansol and the 4-laned road to be made by DVC can act as an ideal magnet for a corridor-led ribbon city development. Here is where the meeting took place:
At Gar-Chumuk, Raghunathpur where we had the meeting.

* * *
At Purulia circuit house, after my site visit to Saheb Bandh Lake for its conservation, I spoke to two journalists from Pratidin and Sakalbela, whom I'd met earlier in my Chief Electoral Officer days.
Here is what came out in today's Pratidin and Sakalbela:

Monday, May 28, 2012

High Rise Buildings

I have been arguing for tall buildings for optimum land utilisation in scare urban space. The matter of 'chapatti cities' of India was raised by the World Bank President during his visit to Kolkata, and there is a post in this blog itself. The book 'Triumph of the Cities' by Harvard Urban Economist Edward Glaseser (Penguin 2011) also talks forcefully of this concept - that we must strive for taller cities. In fact we are going to hold a national workshop on "Densification of Cities" on 14th July 2012.

Recently, the MoEF, GoI has brought out an advisory saying that in considering tall buildings fire fighting arrangements not only for the buildings but also the location of the nearest fire station and the width of roads must be taken into account (no. 21-270/2008 - IA,III dt 7.2.2012 of MoEF, GoI). It states that for building more than 15 m in height, there must be a minimum right of way and that the local fire station must be within a given circle from it. The Govt of West Bengal formed a Committee consisting of Environment, Municipal Affairs and Urban Development Departments to study the guidelines. The Committee decided to study the guidelines more intensively.
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Anandabazar:
And here is a clipping from today's Bartaman:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Butterfly Garden and Bus for New Town

Yesterday, I, along with Saurabh Chaudhury, Conservator of Forest, visited Bonobithan, Salt Lake to see Wild Flower varieties (lantana, polygonaceae) , orchids (I never knew that one could grow orchids in Kolkata) and butterfly garden. I talked to Suman, GM-IV, to see if the wild flowers I saw the day before could be used in some patches in our Eco Park.
While in the butterfly garden, I 'liberated' a Tiger Butterfly from a bottle: it had just hatched from the larva in the laboratory and I was asked to open the lid. It was a pleasure seeing the new-born butterfly fly away.
Today morning, I took this picture of the butterfly garden on my Blackberry 9900. I hope to build a butterfly park and a NIC (Nature Interpretation Centre) in New Town's Eco Park.
Open Butterfly Garden at Bonobithan, Salt Lake:
 It is quite difficult to capture the picture of a flying butterfly with a Blackberry camera, I found !

* * *
I spoke to transport secretary B P Gopalika yesterday. He assured me that two circular-route buses will ply from Monday. I talked with Sutirtha Chakrabarty of Pratidin on this. This is what he wrote today:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Digha Gate, LED Street Light & Wildflowers

In the Eco-Park that we are constructing, there is a zone called "wildflower zone". I've been wondering what we could do in this zone. Today morning, in course of my morning walk, I met Rajib Mandal of Bagnan who was selling these cute coloured flowers. I asked the names: he said: I don't know, some call it bluebells, some call it wild flowers.
I took his mobile number. Bought a few specimens at a princely sum of Rs 10 and said that I might contact him next week. Here is a photo:
Wild Flowers for Eco Park?

* * *
At 8.30pm, on our way home, I and Mr SPChatterjee, CE(Electrical) Hidco, went to the Main Street of Financial Hub. We have planned to put up state-of-the-art environment friendly LED street lights there. Two posts had them installed: I quite liked the soothing white light in contrast to the foggy yellow sodium vapour lamps in the other posts. No doubt the LED streetlights are more expensive but I guess we must invest for a greener tomorrow.
* * *
The panel saw and judged the entries for the Digha Gate. They selected two designs. I liked them both. Design orders will soon be given. I plan to put the photos soon (Here it is:- )

Proposed Gate at Digha : Award winning entry (selected)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

e Auction of Plot for Secondary School at New Town

Yesterday I had a detailed discussion with Finance Director and acting CMD of MSTC. This public sector company specialises in e-Auction and is conversant with all GoI procedures. Though normally it does the e-Auctions for the Power, Coal and other sectors, it has also done few e-Auctions for land.
I have requested them to give a specific proposal for the e-Auction of one plot of land for a Secondary Scholl at Rajarhat. I hope to place it in Hidco's Board meeting on 28th May.
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Bartaman:
I am planning to set the stalls at the location where GM-II's office was earlier located - bang on MAR, close to site of eco-park.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Eco Cities & Secondary Cities: Meet with World Bank

Yesterday morning, the Sector Manager of Urban Development & Water Supply and Sanitation, Mr Ming Zhang of World Bank met me at Urban Development Department. Mr Kesavan & Ms Ghosh were also with him. We talked of (1) developing Salt Lake and New Town as Eco2 (ecologically friendly and economically vibrant) cities and (2) taking forward the Secondary Cities Decvelopment project forward.
Mr Ming agreed to help me with further information and inputs.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wastewater treatment using radiation treatment

I received today a DO Letter bearing number 12074/3(6) dated 7.5.12 from Mr Ranjan Chatterjee, Consultant, Planning Commission, Delhi  indicating that the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre has developed a radiation treatment of sewage sludge which offers an "efficient, simple and reliable method to produce pathogen-free sludge which can be further upgraded to nproduce bio-fertiliser".

I'd met Mr Chatterjee during last year's Plan discussions at Yojana Bhavan, at Delhi. We are making many Sewage Treatment Plants under National Ganga River Basin Plan (Kalyani, Bhatpara, Gayeshpur etc), JNNURM (by KMDA/ KMWSA/ UD) and at New Town Kolkata (by PHED/Hidco). I am also concerned about the state of affairs of Salt Lake STP where a team from World Bank had recently visited at my request. Indeed, sewage disposal is a huge problem and even if there are STPs, fecal coliform and other microbes are difficult to destroy. As such, nuclear radiation treatment would be a great possibility. (It will also allow me to connect with my Post MSc days in Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics !!).

I plan to contact Mr Chatterjee as soon as I can.
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Times of India.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Urban Stall in Pragati Utsav

Yesterday, Minister Firhad Hakim came to the hanger no.3 where exhibits of UD, KMDA, HDA, DSDA, HIDCO, NKDA, HIT and units of MA Department were displayed. The inaugural ceremony was over. It was still uncomfortably humid and warm. I suggested a group photograph. Here is what was captured on my camera by someone I didn't quite know:
Seen: Firhad Hakim, me, A. Bandyopadhyay, Vivek Bhardwaj, Sutanu Kar, Krishnendu Basak and others

Before that, seated on the third row, I took this picture on my Sony h55:

Today's Times of India carries this clip:

Devlina of Times of India rang me on my mobile for this on Thursday afternoon: I was in Kolkata Airport, on my way to Delhi.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Branded Bengal Rice for International Tourists

When we go to a new place on a tour, we often think of carrying something for the home. It can be Makaibari tea when you drive down via Pankhabari from Darjeeling, Karachi biscuits from Hyderabad or (as I've written in this blog earlier) Alampur Prawns when returning from Digha.

Today, at Bangabhavan (delhi), I attended a programme by Minister Arup Roy. The Agricultural Marketing Department inaugurated a kiosk in Bangabhavan that will sell choicest Tulai-Panja, Kalo-Numia, Gobindabhog and other exotic varieties in packets. In my short speech, I offered to give space at New Town so that tourists returning to airport can take a last minute "bit of Bengal" back home.

The minister kindly agreed. So let's hope to take this forward as well.
* * *
In the morning, I met Mr Sudhir Krishna, Secretary to Govt of India, Urban Development Department and discussed about a National Workshop in Kolkata on "Densification of Cities".
 Saturday 14th July has been agreed as the date. He has agreed to come.

Now we have to organise.

(Camp: T1D Airport, Delhi; Indigo flight delayed)

19th May 2012

Here is a clipping from today's Pratidin:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Najrul Academy & File Tracking

Met poet Joy Goswami today afternoon at Sisir Mancha. I met him in his capacity as Chairman of Najrul Academy. Bibhas Chakraborty and other members were also there. We discussed about 25th May's function as also the architectural designs of the Najrul Bhavan. Was quite impressed by his politeness and gentle approach.
* * *
Also went to the Merchant Chamber of Commerce to have an interactive session on Real Estate trends in West Bengal. Though I carried a PowerPoint presentation, there were no laptop or projector (I was carrying my pen drive). I spoke from the hard copy but thought it went off reasonably well.
* * *
Here is what Sakalbela wrote today on UD Department's e-Filing & Tracking system:

Monday, May 14, 2012

First underground ride in KMRCL

A little while ago, we went by a trolley in the underground tunnel from near Swabhumi. 600 metres are already ready. Here are two photos:

L to R: CMBachhawat, IAS, me, Subrata Gupta IAS MD KMRCL, Rajiv Kumar IPS.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Eco Park Visit

Yesterday's field meet in Eco-Park was fruitful. We debated the concepts: there were two conflicts among the experts:
(1) Should or should not rock gardens be encouraged?
(2) Should or should not animal statues / animal shaped (eg giraffe, elephant etc) slips etc be encouraged in children park zone?
We decided to refer the issues to a third specialist.
* * *
Here's what today's Bartaman carried:

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Food Court

This is what I emailed to Gopal Ghosh, CEO NKDA today morning:
"...We may have ground-level food courts near office complexes and also time-shared movable kiosks.
See Sakalbela p3 dt 12.5.2012.
I will be happy to get a plan of action
- DSen..."
And here is p3 clipping from today's Sakalbela:
* * *
Today's Bartaman carried this (not all of it is the whole truth though):

* * *
I went to Durgapur with Partha Das, Arijit Sanyal and Sutanu of PMU. We went to see the Durgapur Haat. We will build an urban haat in Eco Park:

Friday, May 11, 2012

People Public Art

Debashis Gharai of Sakalbela spoke to me yesterday. This is what he wrote today:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Markets in New Town

Zeeshan of The Telegraph spoke to me yesterday. Here is what he wrote today :

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Signage on VIP Road

We changed the signage on VIP road near the Haldiram right turning flyover. So now flying in to Kolkata and headed for the city, one would know which road to take at the fork :

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"History of Electronic Voting in India"

On 27th April, I was invited by the Centre for Psephological Studies, Rabindra Bharati University, for a wokshop. This was to start at 1 pm. Though I'd agreed, I couldn't be present because same day same time I was to be present at a Cabinet Committee meeting.
I'd, earlier, submitted a paper. This was published and released on that day. The booklet, called "History of Electronic Voting in India" was handed over to me few days later by Dr Prabhat Datta :

The book contains 20 pages. I'd written it some time ago.
* * *
Today's Bartaman carries the following clipping on SBI's land at New Town:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

My letter forged

Alapan Bandyopadhyay, Principal Secretary, Municipal Affairs Department telephoned me on Wednesday afternoon asking me whether I'd issued any instructions to Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Of course, I hadn't: it later transpired that someone had fraudulently used my name. I informed the Minister Firhad Hakim when he came to Nagarayan on Thursday afternoon; I pointed out that there were six glaring mistakes proving quite clearly that the letter wasn't by me. He told the press later. Here are two clippings:
(from today's Pratidin).

(from today's Bartamaan)

It was quite scary and I was rather upset. Upset because if there weren't those glaring mistakes, I could be misunderstood easily and I shuddered to think if this'd happened for sensitive allotment issues that I deal with.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

SBI takes land for International Training Institute: Payment received

On 30th April, we came to know that the SBI Board has agreed to set up their international standard bankers' training institute in New Town. This will be on a 10 acre plot, adjoining the CBD / Financial Hub...Today a team from SBI led by CGM Kolkata, DGM Bidhannagar etc met me at Hidco Bhavan and handed over the cheque.
The Finacial Hub has started walking.

3rd May 2012 (Thursday)

Here is a clipping from today's Anandabazar:

4th May, Friday
Here is a clipping from Times of India:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chandannagar lights on buses

A while ago, we flagged off 5 buses of Hidco decorated with Chandannagar lights, marking the beginning of one-week celebration of end of 150th year anniversary of Rabindranath. This was held this afternoon at the first rotary of New Town, near the new bus stand. Here is a picture in my camera:

Here is a clipping from "Ekdin":