Thursday, July 31, 2014

Morning Walkers for Eco Park

Many people were requesting that Eco Park be opened for morning walkers. My problem was that this would mean setting up ticket counters and thus extra shift of staff and security people. Now we have decided to issue monthly and annual tickets for entry as well as for car parking and thus solve a manpower issue. The timings would be as follows:

Summer (April to October):  5.30am to 8 am
Winter (November to March): 6 am to 8.30 am

We plan to start from 15th August. Entry will be from Gate 2 only.
* * *
The Entry Plaza and Visitors' Centre will start from tomorrow 1st August 2014. I went there this evening with ED(E), CEs, JMD, GMs, Curator, etc to inspect arrangements. A photo taken this evening:

New Entry Plaza at Gate 4
(Photo courtesy Harish Verma)

* * *
I attended the workshop on social media for business of MCC last week. They sent me a photo by email today. Here is it:
* * *
Here is a press clipping:
Khabar 365 dt 30.7.2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gaming Contest ends in Eco Park

In two days, on Sunday 27th and Monday 28th July about 170 eager gamers participated in the inaugural gaming contest at Eco Park. There were group contests (6 on each side) and individual contests (one playing against the other). The ambience was just correct and tensions rose as in all real games. A 90-minute FIFA fotball match was an 8 minute event on the screen but the clocks showed 90 minutes on the screen. As I witnessed the final yesterday, at least twenty others formed a ring around the finalists cheering up one side or the other. We gave away certificates. The prizes were 10 hours of free gaming over a 2 month period with few conditionalities. From today, anyone can play with a small fee. I am thankful to SPChatterjee, Sutanu Kar, Madhusudan Chatterjee, Suman, Harish, Amit, Subhomoy, Sanjit, Subhashis, N Sil, Nirmal and Rishiraj for getting the gaming zone up and running.   Here are two photographs:
Gaming Zone in Bamboo Graden, Eco Park

Finalists of individual FIFA 2014 playing it out
Here is a clipping from Telegraph Metro that appeared on Saturday 26th July 2014:

The Board of Directors of Hidco met yesterday. Among other things, it decided to invite offers for running events for marriage/ birthday / other parties for 6 months starting October 2014  in two designated places of Eco Park. It was also decided to invite few commercial displays for advertising on the LCD board in front of Hidco Bhavan. The revenue earned n both counts will be used for maintenance and upkeep of Eco Park.
* * *
ToI dt 28.7.2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Smart Water Control in Housing of UD

   Few days ago, Tejen Som, Special Engineer UD and his team successfully commissioned a smart water control system for Bichitra Abasan. This was based on a discussion with an IT expert several months ago at my chamber. The problem was that in Housings such as Bichitra Abasan the overhead reservoirs often overflowed while the lone pump operator tried to manage several tanks in several blocks. Sometimes the underground reservoirs would run out of water too but timely switching off may be delayed.

     The scheme that was commissioned is purely computer controlled. The engineer can start and stop all pumps in the Abasan from his laptop. Connectivity is provided through SIM enabled GPRS installed in a controller attached to each pump. There are sensors in the underground as well as overhead tanks. There is a microprocessor controlled mechanism that works out the logic and sends SMS message to the operator's mobile phone and the engineer's computer. If the operator does not respond within 2 minutes, the controller decides itself to switch off the pumps concerned.

      To cater to water supply problems, the water level in each of the eight overhead and underground tanks can be seen by sending a request from a laptop and getting a coded reply through SMS.

    To conserve water and wastage of power, the new smart system is a great help with manual warning and automatic cut outs. If the system works fine over a year, we will extend this to other Housing Estates operated by UD Department such as Sraboni, Falguni, Baisakhi etc.
* * *
Last 14th July, I was invited for the French National Day celebrations (see earlier post in the blog). M. Fabrice Etienne, the Consul General of France in Kolkata sent me the following picture yesterday.
14th July 20114
French National Day, Hyatt
With Consul General of France in Kolkata

Friday, July 25, 2014

Seminar on Sustainable Kolkata at Lincoln Room

The Indo American Chamber of Commerce organised a seminar yesterday at Lincoln Room, American Centre. This was on Making Kolkata a Sustainable City. Dr Joysree Roy of Jadavpur University and I were the panel speakers who were joined later by Skype by two others in US. Mr Sudipta Das of E&Y was the moderator. Director American Centre (JJ) spoke too at the beginning.
I spoke about the need for upgrading existing cities, making new towns and also making both old and new towns smart cities. I talked of post independence new town projects: Durgapur, Kalyani, Bidhannagar and New Town Kolkata. I mentioned that we were considering the following towns to be made smart towns under the Centre's 100 smart City programme:
Jaigaon, Phulbari, Raghunathpur, Gangasagar, New Town, Baruipur, Kalyani, Bolpur, Durgapur and Debanandapur.
I went straight to Howrah Railway Station from the seminar even while Skype with a panelist was going on. I took the Bombay Mail for going to Raipur from where I am writing this post now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Work on Panchapradip starts

Yesterday afternoon, we broke coconuts to mark the date of actual commencement of beautification works of sixth rotary or Akankhya More where the subways have already been commissioned. This is a major intersection and we will erect a sculpture that will welcome visitors to Kolkata and New Town. Renowned architect Prabir Mitra is designing the sculpture. A photo taken yesterday:
Ananda Ganguly, Prabir Mitra, me, Mrinal Mukherji:
22 July 2014, 6th Rotary

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Public Convenience

In New Town, we'd designed and installed a Cafe-cum-Public Pay and Use Toilet. See

Now, In Bidhannagar, we just completed a new Pay-and-Use Toilet near Sech Bhavan and BSNL telephone exchange. The area is close to CGO Complex and other State Government offices like Bikash Bhavan, There used to be complaints from morning walkers that visitors to the area create nuisance on the walls of the offices for lack of public conveniences. Tejen Shome, Special Engineer UD and his team has just completed one Pay & Use facility. It is very innovatively designed. It will be commissioned soon. Here is a photograph:

Parks of Salt Lake on wall of Public Toilet. Salt Lake.
* * *
This mornng, I broke coconut to mark commencement of a City Centre in front of Home Town. A picture:

Near flyover and Axis Mall / Home Town:
Birth of a City Centre Plaza
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Here are a few clippings:

Ei Samay dt 19.7.2014

Ei Samay dt 19.7.2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tour Operator's Meet at Sabuj Sathi

Yesterday evening, a group of 60 tour operators of Kolkata visited Eco Park. They were given a guided tour around the park. They saw the musical fountain too. Thereafter they went to Eco Island by boat. I had an interaction with them and made a short presentation on tourist attractions of Eco Park and New Town. They were all very impressed and promised to see that tourists to Kolkata make a visit to Eco Park. A photo:

Tour Operators in Glass House yesterday.
We are making yet another zone in Eco Park. It is a gaming zone. Yesterday Hidco team inspected the site. We planned to open with a free contest on 25th July, as advised by our honorary consultant Rateira:

Team Hidco at Gaming Zone
* * *
Here are two clippings:
Times of India dt 16.7.2014:
I used this clipping in a presentation to IAS trainess
at ATI yesterday.

Hindustan Times dt 15.7.2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bonomahotsav, Lottery, Statue, Bastille Day and Tourism

Today 14th July, we, in association with Forest Department, organised Bonomahotsav at the Tree Bank site in Action Area 1D, opposite bank of Upasana, the immersion ghat. We planted saplings, distributed sapling to school children and made little speeches on the importance of planting trees. PPCF WF Ujjal Bhattachara, Conservator N Mallik, Bonani Kakkar of PUBLIC, Ananda Ganguly, Sutanu Kar and others spoke too. A photo:

A related clipping appearing in today's Hindustan Times:

* * *
At Rabindra Tirtha, the lottery of stalls / shops began today. It will go on for four days. I was present to start off the proceedings. Mr A K Patnaik former IAS officer was the observer-judge. A clipping that appeared today in Khabar 365:

Khabar 365 dt 14.7.2014
The outcome of the first day's lottery is already uploaded in the NKDA website.

* * *
Here is a statue installed by Hidco on VIP Road near the airport: I took this photo today afternoon.

Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

I was the chief guest today at the reception hosted by the French Consul General on account of their National Day. I presented to M. Fabrice Etienne a bouquet of flowers on behalf of CM.

I was at the tourism fair yesterday at Kshudiram Anusilan Kendra. I handed over a few prizes. I invited a delegation of tour operators to Eco Park on Wednesday afternoon. A photo taken yesterday:
At Tourism Fair at Kshudiram Anusialn Kendra on 13.7.14
Umapada Chatterji, me, GoI rep, Chattisgarh rep

Sunday, July 13, 2014

New Township at Gangasagar

Just came back from a trip to Gangasagar by helicopter. Saibal Thakurtha Chief Town Planner and A Latua ADM S-24Paraganas travelled with me. The travel time, one way, was 35 minutes. At Sagar, inspected sites with Shri Bankim Hazra Chairman Gangasagar Bakkhali Development Authority & MLA, SDO, BDO and others. We wish to start planning soon. For this, all ongoing efforts need to be brought to one map initially: ICZM Worls Bank Project, Deep Sea Port Plan, Ring Road plan, Eco Tourism Plan, Tourist Department/  PWD/ PHED Plans etc need to be converged. Thereafter, we will start a survey so that the contours of a pilgrimage based eco-town emerges, where Jammu Island will be put on trekking route and Bakkhali will be connected.

I went to Sagar after a year or so. I found the new Gangasagar-Bakkhali Development Authority has been doing a very good job despite odds of low manpower and remote location. They have set up their office in a new blue-and-white building, coordinating tourist lodge construction, ITI building, concrete road and other projects. I also saw a new windmill being set up - which I'd not seen earlier -  and I took a picture taken from the helicopter just before landing. Here is it:

Windmill under construction at Sagar

Here are two other pictures:
At Behala Airport:
Saibal Thakurtha, me, Latua

Instrument panel:
before take-off
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

New City at Jaigaon

I went to Jaigaon yesterday. Had a meeting with new Chairman Jaigaon Development Authority (JDA)Wilson Chapramari, Alice Vaz DM Alipurduar, Pritha Sarkar DM Jalpaiguri, Addl SP Alipurduar, SDO Alipurduar, Pradhan Dalsinghpara, Pradhan Jaigaon and others. Before that I had an extensive site visit. I realised that population of Jaigaon (86,000) was more than that of district HQ Alipurduar (66,000). Unplanned urbanisation is rampant. Encraochments are rampant. On the other hand, driven by trade and work opportunities across the border of Bhutan, land price is often more than that of Siliguri. I also saw the site of proposed new Jaigaon. A picture:
Bhutan hills in background:
resumed Tea Garden in foreground
We decided to do a planning survey soon. Later, I met and briefed Minister of North Bengal Hon'ble Gautam Deb on my way back at Siliguri.

Here are two clippings from today's papers:

Uttarbanga Sambad dt 12.7.2014

Ei Samay dt 12.7.2014
I would go to Gangasagar tomorrow to study new town possibility in Sagar.
* * *
Here is a clipping from yesteday's Khabar 365:

Khabar 365 dt 11.7.2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

QR for Directions

Posting this from Alipurduar Circuit House. Just had a meeting with Alice Vaz DM Alipurduar, SDO Alipurduar and AEO Jaigaon Development Authority here. Tomorrow we are going to Jaigaon to explore how to plan for a new township there. It took three and a half hours to reach here from Bagdogra airport. But the road was good and the view (tea gardens, forests, Teesta, Torsha..) was great.
* * *
Yesterday, I took a meeting on digital media. Besides our IT staff, Dr Sethi of Telmac and Sudhakar Gupta of Ad-Impact were present at my invitation along with their teams. They spoke at length on best ways to use the social networking sites. A photo on my mobile:
I also spoke of use of QR codes (QR=Quick Response). I advised NKDA to use QR codes on map based directions boards in New Town. The maps help a person to find an adddress. A QR code linked to a Google Map will allow anyone with a smartphone to precisely locate his destination. Here is a web-pic that I used yesterday in the meeting to illustrate what I had in mind:

I have asked Pritam Thakur, System Manager (NKDA) to try out prototypes within a week. Meanwhile here is a QR code that I just generated and would be happy to get answers from readers as to what it is about:
* * *
Here is what Pritam has sent:

Try out the QR with your smartphone's QR reader application

Monday, July 7, 2014

Barrackpur Water Supply Project

I went to inspect works of the Barrackpore- North Barrackpore Water Supply project wit KMWSAA officers. The water supply project is designed to supply 15 mgd of water. The Water Treatment Plant is located within the Palta Brickfield Area. The project cost now stands at Rs. 159 crores. It is a JnNURM project.

I went to inspect its progress and especially to see why KMWSAA was yet to receive permission from the Ministry of Defence in laying 1.6km of pipeline through the cantonment area of Barrackpore.

Here is a photo taken this morning at the intake jetty:

Intake Jetty at North Barrackpore
* * *
Here is a link that shows the Doordarshan News on Travel & Tourism Fair at Glass House at Eco Park Island on Saturday 5th July. It was telecast on Sunday :
* * *
Here are two clippings that appeared today:
Anandabazar dt 7.7.2014

Times of India dt 7.7.2014

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Nursing College in New Town

A two-acre plot has been allotted for setting up of a Nursing School and College in Action Area II of New Town. The plot was allotted through e-Auction process to the famous Belle Vue Clinic Hospital. They are expected to run GNM and B.Sc(Nursing) Courses. There is, incidentally, a great shortage of trained nursing staff in the health sector and the new institution will fill up the gap to some extent. Mr Pradip Tandon, CEO Belle Vue, has promised to complete all formalities very fast.
* * *
The Tourism Department organised a road show to showcase West Bengal's tourism prospects yesterday. The venue was the glass house in the Eco Island of Eco Park. There were more than 100 delegates from different parts of the country and even abroad. Umapada Mukherjee Director Tourism West Bengal welcomed all the guests. There was a presentation on behalf of Tourism Department. The discussions and presentations continued well into the evening (till 9pm). All delegates were very impressed with Eco Park. I made a small presentation too. Sutanu Kar JMD organised a special leaflet and a small souvenir for each delegate. Dinner, sponsored by TTF, was served at the Food Court of Eco Park. Here is a picture on my camera by Sanjit Sharma:
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

New Town : Smart Green City

Here is the one-page document that I gave to Govt of India during the national conference at Vigyan Bhavan on 2nd July 2014:

I, with the help of Pritam Thakur and Subhankar Debnath, listed out the initiatives already taken up in New Town towards becoming a Smart, Green City. Here are some of these:

1. Vehicle Tracking System for Solid Waste Management: Waste collecting vehicles in New Town are under a Vehicle Tracking system. The movement and location of the vehicles can be viewed internally on webpage. Mechanical Sweepers will soon be under VTS too.

2. Online Building Plan Sanction: NKDA approves building plans on-line. Plans are scrutnised through software and observations are given through email/ sms. Digital Signature based building permission along with sanctioned drawings are sent to applicant through email.

3. Smart Car Parking Fee:  Hand-held terminals are used by NKDA in designated parking lots to accurately levy correct fee and prevent loss of revenue.

4. SMS Information: Rabindra Tirtha events and other information are routinely sent to interested citizens through SMS.

5. Mobile based grievances: An Android-based m-Grievance application has been launched on Google Play Store which can be downloaded free. Pictures of problems like accident site etc an be geo-referenced and sent to the map in the website.

6. Solar City: New Town is a Solar City and many programs are being undertaken to reduce dependence on fossil fuels such as use of energy efficient LED in street lights, canal-top solar energy generation (under preparation) etc.

7. Green Building: In collaboration with CII, one utility building is being so built as to make it Green Certified.

8. GIS: Entire New town in being covered by GIS enabled maps for proper planning and MIS.

9. Bio-metric Attendance: All officers of NKDA and Hidco record their attendance in office through bio-metric devices. Leave accounting is done accurately through computerised data at the end of each month.

10. File Tracking System: Hidco Bhavan is Wi Fi enabled and file tracking is done through a computerised system.

11. Social Networking: Facebook pages of WBHIDCO, Rabindra Tirtha and Eco Park are active. Many useful information are communicated through these.

12. Just Dial: Eco Park is present in JustDial to guide visitors, get directions and other information.

13. iCar Software: Internally developed with help of PMU, this software manages car billing system for all vehicles used in Hidco for ease of use and accurate monitoring.

14. Webcasting: All major public events in New Town are now webcasted. Any user throughout the globe can log in and see events (such as Basanta Utsav) in real time, live.

15. CCTV: For security and safety, Eco Park, Hidco Building etc are covered by CCTVs. Work for Eco Park is going on.

16. Optical Fibre Duct: Underground optical fibre duct has been laid throughout the New Town for laying OFC by users.

16, Wi Fi Corridor: Planning phase of Wi Fi Corridor along MAR has begun

Friday, July 4, 2014

2 Day National Conference at Vigyan Bhavan

Just came back yesterday from Delhi. Couldn't post from Delhi because Airtel4G data card doesn't work in Delhi: it is launched only in Kolkata, Bengaluru etc.

First day, 2nd July, was a workshop with Secretaries. Even here, Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu came sharp at 9am, and addressed the inaugural session. I found in his address a spontaneity and honesty that appeals to all - he did not read a written script. He was quite witty at times ("you can live without a wife but not without water", or, "Gandhiji told us -Back to the Village; but our leaders showed backed from the village") and what he said made sense. Secretary (MoHUPA & MoUD) Anita Agnihotri stayd throughout the session till 6pm.

I contributed to the discussions whenever I could. I pressed for according Smart City status to New Town and gave them through Asim Pal a single page photo feature that was put together up by Sanjit Sharma. The next day, Shri Venkaiah referred to this photo after Minister Hakim spoke.

A photo taken on my mobile on the first day:    
Vigyan Bhavan: 2 Juy 2014
W of West Bengal meant I sat quite near the back.
Minister Firhad Hakim spoke of the need for having monorail and elevated corridor for making New Town better connected smart city. He also requested for new city status for Raghunathpur, Jaigaon and Gangasagar.
 Here is a clipping from today's Anandabazar:

  * * *
Here is a clipping from yesterday's Times of India:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Office Building Commissioned

We are constructing some office builtings in Action Areas I. II and III. While those in AA-II & III will require a year or so to complete, the one at AA-I is not only complete but also fully occupied by the PHE Department. The offices of SE and EEs were earlier housed in rented buildings in Salt Lake. Now they have moved to the Utility Building (as we are fond of calling). Last Saturday, Supriyo Bagchi Superintending Engineer PHE and other EEs of PHE welcomed us with sweets when we visited the new building:
Office of SE, PHE, New Town Circle:
Now in AA-I new building
* * *
Here is a clipping from yesterday's Times of India: