Friday, August 31, 2012

Upcoming events

We finalised few event dates yesterday. Some are:

10th Sep (Monday): Presentation by UMTC on Light Rail Transport (LRT)
16th Sep (Sunday): Starting of weeklong activity in Rabindra Tirtha
19th Sep (Wed): Inauguration by Minister of Sculptor Workshop and two Children's Parks in New Town
22 Sep (Sat): Road show on Financial Hub at Mumbai
27 Sep (Thu): World Tourism Day at Digha
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Here is a clipping from Times of India published few days ago:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Interlocking Building Technology

On the Tuesday weekly meeting at Hidco, I talked about the technology that I'd come across in a seminar in Delhi that'd been organised by MoHUPA. It uses grooved bricks; walls can be made by interlocking these special bricks without use of mortars. I correlated this with the interlocking paver bricks that we use all over Kolkata. I requested the technical team of Hidco to see if roadside public toilets, boundary walls, police kiosks etc could first be started using this technology. Here is a picture from the material that was given to us in Delhi:
Quick & Sustainable Construction using interlocking bricks
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Here is a clipping from today's Telegraph Metro:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Biometrc Attendance in NKDA too

Biometric attendance system was introduced in Hidco last year. It is functioning well. One has to swipe a card and put up the index finger for scanning and the time / date is recorded. I do it every day I enter / leave Hidco Bhavan - as do others. In fact, there will be a scrutiny at the time of the annual increment and the extent of increment may be influenced with the computerised attendance reports for each employee.

Last Saturday, MP Ms Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar inaugurated the bio-metric attendance system in NKDA. This is an even improved version: there is no need of any card. One only has to put one's finger on the scanner and the attendance is recorded.
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

Monday, August 27, 2012

One month to World Tourism Day 2012

There was a meeting by CM today regarding city's beautification matters. It was decided that World Tourism Day on 27th Sep would be celebrated on the theme "Dream - Green & Clean". I mentioned that we'll celebrate it at Digha. Later in the day, I had a meeting with Soumen Pal, EO DSDA. I told him to have a meeting involving the DM, SDO Panchayats etc. Here is a photo from the web on this year's logo:
* * *
A delegation of CII headed by the Director - Skills, Affirmative Action and School Education met me today to discuss about Skill Development. I told that a 5-storied Vocational Training Centre creating about 2.5 lakh sq ft is nearing completion and is expected to be completed within the year. I said that they could take it up with the Technical Education department to see how best it could be operationalised.
* * *
One Mr Jain - himself a Chartered Accountant - met me today to expedite his plot transfer in Salt Lake. He said he was ready to pay the govt transfer fees right away. He'd applied in the prescribed format a few days ago.  I have taken steps to expedite the matter and I hope it will be the first such case.
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Bengal Post:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Save Ganga Campaign

For a long time, we'd been planning to have an awareness programme under the NGRBP (National Ganga River Basin Project).
I broached the concept last year, in July or so. I'd meant to catch the festival season to put in a message to the public. It was to continue till the Book Fair event ie Oct-Jan.
Then came the red tapes, the unceasing queries, how-do we-know-the-money wont-go-waste doubts. We called clear expression of interest, got presentations evaluated by a Committee, introduced checks and balances (photos, involvement of municipalities, video documentaries, official report etc). But these to-and-fro communications took their time. Finally, we started the campaign in April-May and today in culminated in a finale in Millennium Park. I felt contended to see the concept-to-reality unfold in real life.
We walked in the morning. Minister Firhad Hakim walked with us from Princep Street to Millennium Park along with Chunar De, Khalil Ahmed, Saidul Islam and others. In the afternoon, there were elocution contest, quiz, drama, dance drama and Bangla Band - all based on the Save Ganga Theme. Municipalities of Uttaprpara and Khardaha brought bus-loads of people to receive prizes from the Minister. Spectators were given calenders, mobile covers etc with the Save Ganga logo. Here is a picture that I took in the morning: the boat was travelling with us on the river, in pace with our procession.
 * * *
Here is the logo for Rabindra Tirtha designed by Suvaprasanna:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Magic Box" Underpass being planned

We have installed a new road sign on VIP Road. When coming in from airport, you take a sharp left turn to go to the city through New Kolkata. You pass the right turning flyover for traffic coming from opposite direction. The sign is in this flyover. Here is a picture that I took today afternoon on my way back from Kalyani:

Soon after turning right, you cross the Rajarhat Road crossing, a very congested crossing. We have been thinking of making a fly-over here but are getting thwarted due to the fact that Metro Railway will cross this junction on elevated rails: this will 'foul' with the flyover.
In Bangalore, I'd come across Magic Box Underpasses. Here, instead of flying over, one of the roads go under the other - which carries on its usual level course. We have invited RITES to do a feasibility study. Here is a concept of this kind of Magic Box Underpass:
* * *
I went to Kalyani to participate in foundation stone laying ceremony of a Bus Stand under JnNURM. Here is a picture of the site where work has started:
At Kalyani: Press photographers taking our pics
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Anandabazar:
* * *
Here is a clipping from Bengal Post of 24 Aug:
* * *
Here is a link to a story in today's Times of India:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Financial Hub Re-launched from Vigyan Bhavan Delhi

The meeting for International Financial Hub at New Town, Kolkata was held a while ago at Vigyan Bhavan Hall 2. Saugata Roy, Union MoS (UD), Firhad Hakim MIC (UD & MA) GoWB,  Sudhir Krishna Secretary UD GoI,  A Singhvi Joint Secretary, Bhaskar Khulbe Pr RC WB, Asutosh Joshi Director UD GoI, ILFS, SBI, Allahabad Bank, RBI, UBI, UCO, National Insurance, SREI, IPE, SIDBI, DHFL and many others attended.
Secy Krishna gave the welcome speech. He said hat planned urbanisation needs support.
Union MoS (UD) inaugurated the seminar and gave the inaugural speech. He explained that the joint meeting was a part of Govt of India's policy of supporting satellite townships to decongest mega cities.
I gave a powerpoint presentation and a video clip of New Town. It seemed to have been received well. I requested minister Hakim that we may hold more road shows - in Mumbai and other places. I poited out that the Centre of Gravity of the World's Finances were moving towards the East (China-India) and Kolkata was emerging as one of the top three financial destinations of India as per McKenzie Report (June 2012). My proposition was : Cluster Banking + Look East Policy = Financial Hub in New Kolkata.
Here is the country-wide advertisement that we released today (I checked up Hindustan Times, Economic Times and Times of India here in Delhi):

* * *
I arranged a conducted tour of Vigyan Bhavan after the meeting, for Mr Dulal Mukherjee who is designing the Hidco Convention Centre.
 Here is a collage of two photos on my mobile taken today morning:

Photo courtesy Pr RC Mr Bhaskar Khulbe (extreme left in pic below):-

* * *
Here is the press release of Resident Commissioner's office:

Shri Saugata Roy, Hon’ble Minister of State, Union Ministry of Urban Development and Shri Firhad Hakim, Hon’ble Minister-in-Charge, Departments of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs, West Bengal, attended a high-level meeting on development of an “International Financial Hub in New Town, Kolkata” at 10.30 hours at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi today. Senior officials of Central and West Bengal governments and 29 representatives of a number of banks, insurance companies and financial institutions were present at the meeting.
Welcoming the  participants to the meeting Dr. Sudhir Krishna, Union Secretary Urban Development dwelt on the necessity of undertaking planned development of satellite towns around big cities as a conscious strategy for urban development as such a step not only provided a fillip to organized growth but also provided an impetus to relocating from the congested neighborhood.
The Hon’ble Minister of State, Union Ministry of Urban Development  said the Ministry is facilitating the meeting as part of its overall plan to support development of satellite towns near big cities. This will lead to creation of new infrastructure and de-congestion of cities while ensuring planned urbanization and better living conditions, Shri Roy said.
Hon’ble Minister-in-Charge, Departments of Municipal Affairs and Urban Development, West Bengal, noted that Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, had in March 2012 laid the foundation stone of the proposed international financial hub in New Town, a 3075-hectare futuristic smart green city. Pointing out its locational advantages, including its proximity to the international airport and Eastern India’s best planned IT hub, Shri Hakim invited major institutions, companies and financial service players to invest in the hub.
Shri Debashis Sen, Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department, Government of West Bengal and Chairman-cum-Managing Director of West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (WBHIDCO) made a presentation on the hub, stating that 25 acres of land in the Central Business District area of New Town has been earmarked by WBHIDCO, the implementing agency, for the first phase of the international hub. Ready built-up space of 100,000 sq ft floor area, good drainage, road and sewerage network, connectivity by an upcoming Metro Rail network and planned international convention centre on an area of 100 acres will be other advantages of the proposed hub, the meeting was told. WBHIDCO has already spent Rs. 2000 crore on infrastructure development in New Town and another Rs. 5400 crore has been earmarked for the next five years. WBHIDCO would welcome expression of interest from prospective investors by 31st October, 2012.
* * *
* * *
On my return to Kolkata, I came across this clipping in Times of India of 23rd Aug:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Preparations for Vigyan Bhavan Meet

Though the Meeting for Creation of International Financial Hub at New Town Kolkata will be held tomorrow at Vigyan Bhavan, I took the morning flight to Delhi to tie up the arrangements. Helping me is Subhashis Gupta of PMU who has brought in a team of four. I met Saugata Roy, Union MoS UD, Dr Sudhir Krishna, Secretary, MoUD, GoI, Dr A. Sanghvi JS, MoUD, Ashutosh Joshi Director MoUD and Bhaskar Khulbe, Principal Resident Commissioner, GoWB. I also put a few final touches to the presentation that I'll make tomorrow.
Here are the passes for tomorrow's meeting:
Passes & Car Park Stickers: Meeting starts at 10.30am on 23rd Aug 12
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Bartaman:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Functioning of Rabindra Tirtha

We had the first meeting of the Task Force on Rabindra Tirtha. It was Chaired by Minister Firhad Hakim.  Saoli Mitra, Suvaprsanna, Jogen Choudhury and Secy I & CA Nandini Chakraborty were there. Among the decisions taken - after a considerable discussion - were:
(1) The first programme, consisting of three Tagore dramas, songs would start from 15th September.
(2) Hidco would appoint maintenance agency and security. A Rs10 entry fee would be imposed.
(3) I & CA Department would lend exhibitions on Tagore's views on education etc
(4) Tagore appreciation sessions would be devised in consultation with Rabindra Bharati University
(5) Unique souvenirs on Tagore would be developed and sold.
(6) I & CA Department would lend documentaries on Tagore for being screened
(7) CDs and Books on Tagore would be procured
(8)  Exhibition Halls would need furniture
(9) State of the Art Computers and digital archives with internet access would be installed
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Six Community Markets in New Town : Status

Local neighbourhood markets are very necessary for a town to grow and to prevent haphazard unplanned stalls from sprouting up. As such, I'd taken an initiative to set up Community Markets in Action Area I and II. Initial two markets were designed through a competition. Later, the others were mostly designed in-house by NKDA. The locations are:

Action Area I:
BD-92 (2,000 sq m), CB-31 (1,530 sq m), DD-1 (1,204 sq m)

Action Area II:
IIB-1138 (2,000 sq m), IIC-1834 (1,338), IID-2929 (2,929 sq m)

A typical community market would consist of 5-6 vegetable shops, 4-5 fish stalls, 2-3 meat shops, 4 grocery shops, 4 stationery shops, 2 medicine shops, 2 doctors' chambers, a cafeteria, other conveniences such as book kiosk, milk booth, electrical goods, fast food, hair cutting saloon, sweet shop etc.
Parking, circulation and utility would be incorporated.
   In my review, I thought that in some cases the speed was too slow. I advised Chief Engineer NKDA to see how work could be expedited.
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Amended New Town Building Rules : CCTV & Alarm

We'd made an amendment few months ago in the New Town Kolkata (Building) Rules 1999 wherein it was made compulsory to install Closed Circuit TVs (CCTV) and Security Alarms for all buildings in plots having size of 1 acre or more. This provision is verified while giving Occupancy Certificates. Recently I was reminded of this provision due to the shockingly tragic case of Pakhi's* murder. I undertook a review with NKDA officers and discovered that CCTVs and Security Alarms were installed in a dozen or so such bulk housings or commercial institutions. I have called for a fresh inspection and review.
(*See last clipping below)
* * *
Here are two clippings from today's Times of India:

* * *
* This is an older clip:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Rs 51 crores for one plot !

Yesterday was the last date of dropping bids for a 2.5 acre plot at Action Area II of New Town, Kolkata, beside the Major Arterial Road. It was meant for a Retail cum Office Complex. The highest bid was Rs 51.13 crore. This is the highest ever price fetched in the recent past tenders / auctions. This works out to more than Rs 20 crore per acre or Rs 34 lakh per kottah.
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Blocks in Baisakhi Abasan

There are a few housing estates of the Urban Development Department in Salt Lake. These are mostly for government officers and staff though some exceptions are also there. Sraboni and Falguni are two popular ones. But the biggest, and perhaps the oldest, is Baisakhi. We are adding four new blocks in Baisakhi. These will be of four stories each. Since there are two flats in each floor, this will mean an addition of 2x4x4=32 flats.
I went to inspect the progress of work yesterday with UD engineers. Here is a photo on my mobile:
Additional towers in Baisakhi Housing Estate under construction
* * *
I hoisted the flag at Hidco Bhavan today morning, after hoisting it at NKDA. I had to skip the flag hoisting in Nagaryan Bhavan for UD Department so that I could be present at Red Road for the CM's Flag hoisting ceremony. Here is a snap of the flag hoisting at Hidco:
Independence Day 2012 at Hidco
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Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Land Transfer applications in Salt Lake picking up

On 22nd June a notification was issued to the effect that residential land in Salt Lake would be allowed on payment of fees. So far, the UD Department has issued on request about 70 application sets. These are in various stages of processing. Further, about 49 legal notices have been served on reported cases of illegal transfers/ possession. The momentum is picking up, it seems.
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Bengal Post:
And here is a clipping from today's Sakalbela:
* * *
Here is a link to Hindu Business Line:
and a link to India education Diary :

Monday, August 13, 2012

HealthInfra and Urban Development

I spoke at the CII seminar-cum-exhibition inaugural session this morning. The session was held at ITC Sonar Bangla. The exhibition was held at Milan Mela ground nearby.

I talked of the Health City Project by the Burdwan Development Authority (BDA) on a PPP basis. It is being developed on 57 acres of land at Goda Mouza not far from Burdwan town. Bengal CES Infratech is the Private Partner. The Phase I would consist of Trauma Care & Medical Research Centre, Mother & Child Care Centre, Mobile Health Units and related infrastructure. There will be two more phases as well.

  I also spoke that Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) had also received request for super speciality hospital, school for paramedics, IVF & Infertility Centre, Neuro Trauma unit etc.

  I mentioned about the Health Hub in New Town, Rajarhat around the Tata Medical Centre. HIDCO has also provided land for a Tata Medical Reserach Centre, a cardiology unit, an eko diagnostic clinic, Chittaranjan Cancer Hospital, Sankar Netralaya Eye Hospital, Disha Eye Clinic, Global Hospital for Organ Transplantation and a Nursing College.

Incidentally, Urban Development Department is the Administrative Department for HIDCO, SJDA and BDA along with other bodies.
* * *
In the afternoon, Minister Firhad Hakim and me called upon H.E. the Governor of West Bengal at Raj Bhavan on UD departmental matters. The meeting was in the Governor's study room.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Digha Board Meeting

We had the Digha Shankarpur Development Authority (DSDA) meeting today at the Science Centre Auditorium because the Saikatabas conference room is under renovation. I came last evening and stayed at Saikatabas which is being renovated.
I inspected several sites in the morning.
We took the following decisions (1) Along with the Digha gate, landscaping will be done in two other places (2) As a hotel has already done in one site, others will also be requested to take  up roadside beautification (3) A plot of land near Udaipur Beach in New Digha will be set up for auction  for a 3 star hotel (4) A budget hotel will be set up on a half-complete structure where the top floor will be given to DSDA (5) "Nulias" will be appointed to ensure safety of tourists in sea (6) An electric crematorium will be set up on way to Digha Mohana (7) EOI will be invited for a ropeway in Amravati Park (8) Drainage works will be taken up in critical areas (9) Pace of afforestation will be accelerated by forest department.
.....writing this on my iPad in car on way back from Digha. Just crossing Kolkaghat
* * *
Later: here is a picture taken yesteday at Saikatabas on my iPad. I could not upload it using the iPad. So here I am, uploading on my laptop now:
Monsoon clouds and large waves add
amazing charm to old Digha
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Here is a clipping from Times of India of Friday:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

E Auction of Automobile Showroom

The e-auction of the 40 kottah automobile showroom was concluded today at 3.24pm. The highest offer was Rs 10.25 crores. This plot is along the main road to airport in New Town, in Action Area II. With this, there will be showrooms of Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Toyota, Mahindra and one more. Few have already started construction. All are situated in the same area roughly.
* * *
 The Task Force on Rabindra Tirtha has been formed. The formal notification will come out on Monday but the file has been signed. The Chairman is Minister Firhad Hakim. Members are : Jogen Chowdhury , Subhaprasanna, Dwijen Mukhopadhyay, Saonli Mitra,Joy Goswami, Nandini Chakraborty and Debashis Sen.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

UMTC Transport Review

The Consultants UMTC (Urban Mass Transit Company) of Delhi - a joint venture with MoUD, Govt of India & ILFS - met me day before yesterday. I'd called for a review They made a presentation. I outlined my priorities (a) strategy and plan for LRT in AA-III/II from Metro alignment with extension to Salt Lake / EM by pass (b) IPT - individual public transport - options using green technology (c) rationalisation of routes of buses through New Town.
Here is an IPT option that I liked:

* * *
There have been several reports/ photographs on Rabindra Tirtha inauguration by CM yesterday. We will make a compilation. Meanwhile, here are three clippings:

Sakalbela dated 8.8.2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rabindra Tirtha Inaugurated

I have very strong memories and emotions but am too tired to post now. The event went off well today. The weather held. Here is a picture by my driver Raju on my camera:
L to R:Firhad Hakim, me, Mamata Banerjee
* * *
The front page ad in Anandabazar / Telegraph today morning by Techno India drew some bizarre reactions:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Institute of Chartered Accountants of India in New Town Kolkata

In June, we had put to tender few plots in New Town, Rajarhat, Kolkata. One of these related to the category "Educational" and a 2-acre plot in Action Area II was designated. The highest offer was given by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Kolkata. They offered Rs 34 crores for the 2-acre plot.
Last week, the Chartered Accountant Institute paid the price in full. I welcome their prompt action and hope they set up their institute soon. We may have a formal signing ceremony soon.
* * *
I came back late evening yesterday after supervising last minute preparations for the Rabindra Tirtha inauguration. The power line was getting into a jam and I advised Chief Engineer (Electrical) and MD, New Town Electric Corporation to team up to solve the issue within 12 hours. They promised to do the needful.
Rabindra Tirtha complex is getting beautiful by the hour. I did not carry my camera yesterday. But here are two clippings from today's Times of India and Bengal Post:

* * *
Bengal Post also carries a story on the Hidco Convention Centre. Here is the clipping:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hidco's Convention Centre Design

The concept design of Hidco's Convention centre that will be set up on a 10 acre plot was presented today. This is as follows:
3,000 seat capacity hall to be set up in New Town
* * *
I attended the inaugural session of the Institute of Surveyors.I gave the key-note address. I recalled my recent learning at NRSC Hyderabad and said that survey work for the Durgapur-Raghunathpur alignment was about to start within a month or so. Minister Firhad Hakim was also present.
* * *
I spent some time at Rabindra Tirtha site with all engineers. Quite some cleaning and finishing work remains to be done. I'll make another inspection tomorrow Sunday at 5.30pm.
Yesterday, Ekdin published a report on Rabindra Tirtha. Here is the clipping:

Friday, August 3, 2012

Inauguration at 4pm instead of 5

The time of inauguration programme of Rabindra Tirtha on 7th Aug Baishe shraban will happen at 4pm instead of at 5pm. We are ringing up people to whom cards have already been despatched.
* * *
Here are two parts of a clipping in today's Telegraph - on its weekly Salt Lke page:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dehsabz City

The 10-member urban planning team from Afghanistan came to Hidco today. They are designing the new city called Dehsabz city, to the north of Kabul. "Dehsabz means Green Village", explained Team Leader Mr Ahmadi Mumtaz Ahmad. It will be designed for 3 million people over 700 sq km area. Did they have the land already? No, said Ahmad, the Dehsabz City Development Authority was trying to assemble land but the tribal leaders are possessive of their land holdings because "that is where the bones of their fathers rested". I felt that certain sentiments just resonate across borders throughout humanity.
I, on my part, opined that perhaps 700 sq km for 3 million people would produce a sprawl that would not be environment friendly. Providing security would also be a problem. I advocated a more dense city.
Here is a picture taken by my OSD Kalyan Sen on my Sony h55:
Afghan Delegation at Hidco
At Right: JICA representative; beside him, in dark blue shirt is Ahmad
 * * *
Today is Rakhi. While I was discussing Rabindra Tirtha inauguration program with Hon'ble Chief Minister at her chamber in Writers' Buildings, she tied a Rakhi on my right wrist. And also gave me a home made 'narkel naru' to eat ! Here is the rakhi that she tied (I took the photo with my left hand, in the car, on my way back)
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Bartaman:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New building technologies

I was, till a little while ago, at the National Seminar on Building Technology. This is being held at the India Habitat Centre, Delhi. Today was it's second day; I could not attend the first day as I was in Hyderabad yesterday.
Even during the course of today, I got some great ideas. Some are:
(1) output parameter oriented building tenders were now being increasingly used. This encourages new technology like monolithic pre-fab technology, mortar-less self locking bricks, use of roof and wall insulation etc
(2) concepts of 4R (reduce, recycle, reuse - this we knew - and regulate. Idea is to reduce the colossal waste in construction industry by integrating process design with architectural design, lean construction techniques, embodied energy etc
(3) under an initiative called CSIR800, in the 12th Plan period, the research institutions will post all findings on web for general use and adoption
(4) there is already a building called "Sunya" that uses zero energy. I intend to find out more about it.

Going to airport now to catch the 6.10pm Indigo flight to Kolkata
* * *
Here is a clipping from Times of India:
* * *
Here is another clipping from Times of India: