Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fairs and Festivals in Salt Lake / New Town

Urban theorists recognize that migration to towns and cities occur due to various factors including the 3Es ie Employment, Education and Entertainment. Traditional urban professionals used to lay relatively less emphasis on the Entertainment (Culture, Movies, Melas, Museums, Parks, Festivals and the like), preferring to be reactive and left to others rather than driving it in a pro-active manner. This is changing. As such, urban development department and its organisations have been creating central mela ground in Salt Lake, Eco Park / Rabindra Tirtha / Nazrul Tirtha / Mela Ground / Wax Museum/ Prks both for Children and Senior Citizens Park in New Town, Nazrul Mancha/ Rabindra Sarobar in South Kolkata and the like. In addition to creating such facilities, events also are increasingly being organised by urban authorities.
Here is a list of fairs and festivals slated in the Central Mela Ground of Salt Lake (dates / events provisional) to be organised by various people. Sometimes there is also a sharing of the ground:

Travel East Event : 27 Nov to 30 Nov
Sabala Mela: 25 Nov to 17 Dec
Karigar Haat: 7 Nov to 16 Nov
Bidhannagar Mela: 15 Dec to 26 Jan
Saras Mela: 27 Jan to 14 Feb

Rabindra Tirtha will be an associate partner of British Council's Inter-School Drama Programme from 8th to 13th December. The event will be held in Rabindra Tirtha. There are, in any case, Sunday evening cultural progmmes in Rabindra Tirtha and many other events which are published in Rabindra Tirtha's web site.

In Eco Park too, there will be exciting events in winter and dates are being finalised. Nazrul Tirtha will  host film festivals : besides being a possible additional venue for Kolkata International Film Festival this year, I just spoke to Director of Alliance France and Consul General of France to see if a weeklong French Film Festival may be held in November - December.
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Here is a photo of observation of Nazrul's death anniversary last Friday at Najrul Mancha:

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Here are few clippings:

Bartaman dt 28.8.2014

Khabar 365 dt 28.8.2014

Times of India dt 31.8.2014

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Nazrul Exhibition, Art Camp Pictures

Yesterday, on the occasion of the death anniversary of Kazi Nazrul Islam, a permanent exhibition was inaugurated by Minister Firhad Hakim. A photo of the exhibition:

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The final chapter of the Art Camp was held yesterday afternoon at Hidco Bhavan. Shri Jogen Chowdhuri MP was present. Photos:

Painting by Jogen Chowdhury

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Here are a few press clippings:

Today's Khabar 365

Add caption
Salt Lake Telegraph dt 29.8.2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mixed Planning

   Over the years, there is a gradual shift in philosophy or ethos of urban planning. Earlier, low rise flattened towns were the norms, now there is a definite shift towards vertical growth, higher FAR and densification of cities. Earlier norms called for rigid separation of business and residential zones (think of BBD Bag and Salt Lake, for example): now "walk to work" and mixed development is becoming common. Earlier, no business activities would be allowed in residential houses, now more and more such activities are being permitted in domestic houses.
    For Bidhannagar, in 2010, we'd issued from Urban Development Department a notification that allowed 29 non-hazardous, non-polluting activities in 45% of a residential house. Some examples: Book Shop, Doctor's Consultation Chamber, Gift Shop, Xerox Centre, Studio Photography, Mobile Shop, Bank / ATMs etc.Of course specific permission has to be obtained and fees paid. Now very recently, we added few more activities in the permissible list for Bidhannagar. These are:
1. Salon
2. Diagnostic Centre
3.Sweetmeat shop
4. Tailoring Shop
5. Cottage Industry Products
6. Hardware Shop
7. Garment Shop
8. Meat & Fish shop
9. Ice Cream shop
10.Dry Food Shop
11. Lawyer's Chamber.

The notification number 1530-UD/SL(AL)/4S-12/2010 was issued by us yesterday. This is based on the decision of the Standing Committee of the Cabinet held earlier this month.
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We had the first meeting of Nodal Officers of 10 smart cities yesterday at Nagarayan. Discussions were held at length on various aspects and the way forward. To collaborate and interact, a new Facebook page was launched as follows:

Smart Sahar 
(Log in to your facebook page and search for Smart Sahar)

We hope to use it to collaborate and share best ideas, clarify doubts and keep the group togetherwith latest inputs. (I remembered my days as Chief Electoral Officer when I'd interact with all Returning Officers and AROs through my blog site: some would even take print-outs of some posts and circulate among other officials.)
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Here is a clipping from today's Ananabazar:

Here is a clipping from yesterday's Ei Samay:

And here is a clipping from Labanhrad Sambad: the journalist handed over the copy to me yesterday:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Airport : Enter Through Gate 3, look left !!

Yesterday, we shifted the Financial Hub Kiosk at Kolkata Airport from the International Departure Area to Domestic Departure Area. We have stocked several brochures on Eco Park, Rabindra Tirtha etc. There is a visitors' Book too. We are also trying to provide other relevant information in addition to those on Financial Hub. Many queries are being received, I was informed, on availability of residential flats / plots and so we have asked Sapoorji Palloonji to provide with some brochures. Here is a photo when I visited it yesterday at the Domestic Departure terminal near Gate 3.
Kiosk near Gate 3 Departure:
I plan to sit there for some time on 31st Aug on way to Mumbai
for Road Show on 1st Sep 2014 on Financial Hub
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On my way back, I took the following photograph. This is the underside of the turning flyover near Haldiram on VIP road. There were rather untidy looking tea stalls and vendors when we - some time ago - called for bids from advertising firms as to whether they could tidy up the soace in co-operation with the existing vendors, use the space for advertisement, and pay us some revenue. One firm - based outside Kolkata - won the bid and I discussed with him his experience. Gaining the trust of the local vendors was a big challenge, he said. Then there were intricate problems like changing the position of a bench which could divert away customers from one stall to the next. The sunflowers, he said, were his recent addition: these will light in the night too, he said. I wonder if we can replicate this win-win model of making Kolkata a tiny tiny bit better.

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Times of India dt 25.8.2014

Times of India dt Aug 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Solar Shop

The NKDA (New Town Development Authority) had its board meeting yesterday. Among the decisions taken was one regarding setting up of a Solar Shop in the new 1A market: this will enable people to see, discuss and buy energy efficient solar devices from a specialist shop (Shop S-25). It was also decided that solar panels would be installed in rooftops of Hidco Bhavan, Finnce Centre, NKDA Technical Building and the new markets. It was also decided that Solar Lights would be installed in Smritibon in Action Area 1.

After recognition of New Town as a Solar City by MNRE, quite a few steps have been taken in New Town to take steps to reduce carbon footprint in the town. Some of these are as follows:

1. 500 KW canal-top solar power project: Project formulated in consultation with WBREDA and BESU. Work started.
2. Floating Solar Panel in Smritibon: Project planning started by Green Energy Corporation.
3. Solar Trees in Eco Park: Two trees installed at Gate 3 by BESU on pilot basis
4. Extensive use of LEDs, instead of Sodium Vapour / Metal Halides in street lights
5. Construction of a Green Utility Building in collaboration with technical wing of CII
6. Giving incentives for adoption of green building norms
7. Use of LED signage
8. Holding awareness camps with citizens: Coal India Complex, Rabi Rashmi etc have used energy efficient devices and solar panels in a big way
9. Plan to use e-Rickshaws, motion detectors and net-metering systems.
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Here are three press clippings:

Anandabazar dt 22.8.2014

Anandabazar dt 21.8.2014

The Statesman dt 24.8.2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Picnic Spot

Come winter, especially in December-January, and there erupts the clamour for picnic spots. Office goers and their families, college and school teachers, bankers and local clubs all want to do picnics. With this objective in view, we opened a pathway in Action Area 1D of New New Town adjacent to Upasana immersion ghat, on the opposite of Tree Bank, across the water body. There is already a pay-&-use toilet facility and we'll set up few kitchen sheds. For picnickers of Bengal.
A photo of the new north wing taken yesterday on my mobile:

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We have opened a kiosk at Kolkata Airport to generate awareness about New Town Financial Hub:

Hidco / GoWB kiosk at Kolkata Airport: Photo
taken by Sanjit Sharma today
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Here are a few press clippings:

Today's ToI

ToI dt 20.8.2014

ToI dt 19.8.2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Financial Hub Road Shows in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi

We have decided to hold road shows at Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi soon to promote the New Town Financial Hub. Tentatively, the shows in Mumbai and Chennai will be held on 1st and 15th September, that in Delhi will be in October. Hon'ble Minister Firhad Hakim will address members of the Financial Institutions. The following was published today in a financial / economic paper :

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Here are few clippings from today's papers:

Times of India dt 18.8.2014
Khabar 365 dt 18.8.2014

ToI dt 18.8.2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

e-Rickshaws, finally?

Recently, we got a communication from the Transport Department to the effect that battery powered three wheelers can be given permission to ply by local authorities, according to a recent judgment of the Kolkata High Court. We are taking legal advice on this but I have been in favour of pollution-free e-Rickshaws in New Town but was advised that there are legal issues under the Motor Vehicles Act. After this communication of Transport Department, and after getting legal advice, we will place it in the NKDA board meeting for approval and decision. On approval, NKDA may start giving permissions. This will solve the last mile connectivity problem without creating pollution. This will be consistent with New Town's effort to pose itself as a clean smart solar city.
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Some time ago, we got a letter from Ministry of Urban Development, Govt of India, vide their letter no. K-14011/ 29/ 2012-UT-IV/ Coord  to the effect that in order to bring down road accidents in urban roads, the Progressive J and Writers Society Journalists has brought out a Driving Guide. This is available at . I just went through it, and as a driving licence holder myself, I found it quite informative. In particular, the section on accidents (what to do when you accidentally car bump into another car?) was really good and learnt a few things. I give below a screenshot of the page:
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Here are a few clippings from today's papers:

Anandabazar dt 17.8.2014
Ebela dt 17.8.2014
Times of India dt 17.8.2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Social Welfare

A request was recently received from the department of women development and social welfare that they needed a plot of land for construction of a building for rehabilitation of destitute girl children. An officer of the department and and a planner of Hidco jointly selected a plot of land in Action Area I. The area of the plot is 21.50 kottahs. It has been allotted at a subsidised cost. The philosophy of New Town is that there must be room for the disadvantaged or special needs groups in the planned township. It is thus that housing for the economically weaker section has been constructed in New Town, and there are Children's Parks and a Senior Citizen's Park and now a home for girls needing help and care.
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I was invited at the inaugural session of a National Convention of Realtors this morning. This took place at the ITC Sonar. I handed over a copy of the book "The New Address of Money" to the President of NAR with a request to play the DVD included theein regarding New Town and Financial Hub. I also released the book "Kolkata Smiles" an excellent coffee table book by Reca, Kolkata.

A photo taken by me from the dais at ITC Sonar Bangla this morning on my Sony h55:

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Last Friday, we commenced work on the new car park near the Entry Plaza opened recently. A photo of the coconut breaking event:
Third car park starts in Eco Park

Friday, August 15, 2014

Statue of Vivekananda unveiled

A statue of Vivekananda leading four persons from different religions was unveiled today  by General Secretary of Ramakrishna Mission Swami Suhitananda. He was accompanied by Santanu Maharaj and Swami Guridasanada. The statue points towards the site of Vivekananda University. It is near gate number 1 of Eco Park. The idea is that the Vivekananda University building - on which Ramakrishna Mission is already working in the design stage - will be made in the model of Chicago University where Swamiji attended the World Parliament of Religions and the statue of Vivekananda is leading a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christia and a Sikh toward the university. I was informed later that Swami Suhitanada had greatly appreciated this concept. Two photos taken this morning:

Swami Sutinnda, GS, at site of statue, just after unveiling of the Statues
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The first morning walk in Eco Park was flagged of today morning by Swami Suhitananda and other Maharajs. We were about fifty of us. T-shirts and caps were gifted to all. At the request of a senior 70 plus citizen who'd come on getting an SMS, we decided to reduce the fees for senior citizens by 50% and to offer a discount for first 100 members. Two photographs:

At Entry Plaza, at end of walk.

I hoisted the national flag at the Entry plaza after a speech by Swami Suhitananda. We took an oath to try to keep Eco Park clean and not to use plastic flags.

Here is a pres clipping from today's Anandabazar:

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Here is a clipping from today's Salt Lake Telegraph:

Thursday, August 14, 2014


The Stateman dt 14.8.2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

Independence Day

On behalf of Hidco and NKDA, we will hoist the National Flag at the new Entry Plaza of Eco Park. We held a site inspection today.

This will be preceded by a unique morning walk. For the first time ever, morning walk will be allowed in Eco Park for the public. Registration and membership start tomorrow. The morning walkers will be joined by me and other officers of Hidco and NKDA at 7.30 - 8 am from Gate 2 / Jetty 2. Each participant will be given a token inaugural gift. I will request Swami Suhitananda, General Secretary of Ramakrishna Mission to flag off the morning walkers with his blessings. He has already consented to unveil a new statue of Swami Vivekananda on 15th August near Eco Park Gate 1 on the main road, close to the site of the proposed Vivekananda University to be set up by the Ramakrishna Mission.

       I received recently a circular from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt of India. The circular number 15/3/2014-Public states that on important national events flags made of plastic may not be used since plastic flags are non-biodegradable and do not get destroyed for a long time. This affects the dignity of our Flag. Paper flags also must not be thrown on the ground after the event but should be disposed of in private consistent with the dignity of the Flag.
       Since we will hoist the National Flag in Eco Park this time, this adds a dimention to the central government circular since plastic flags, not eing bio-degradable, is harmful to the atmosphere. We will all take an oath on the first ever flag hoisting in Eco Park that none of us will use plastic flags ever.
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Here is a clipping from today's Times of India: