Thursday, March 31, 2016

"A livable city that takes pride in itself"

Yesterday, I had a long session with ICRA, Deloitte and NKDA to edit the Smart City proposal that will be sent to Ministry of UD in Delhi for approval on a Fast Track basis. This has to be done by 15th April 2016. Before that, a State Level Committee headed by Chief Secretary Govt of West Bengal will scrutinize the plan on 11th April. The upgraded plan with comments of the State Level Committee will be sent to the Ministry by 13th April. The upgraded plan has been modified with fresh inputs from IIT Kharagpore, C40 Cities Alliance, DFID and Price Waterhouse, Deloitte, ICRA, FCC UK and fresh citizen feedbacks. The Vision statement to be contained in the upgraded smart city proposal of New Town would be as follows:

New Town Kolkata Smart City aspires to leverage its existing and future investments to create a livable city that is economically vibrant and takes pride in itself
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Times of India dt 31 March 2016

Times of India dt 31 March 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

3 Day Design Hackathon Starts

At Rabindra Tirtha, on 29th March 2016
(Photo Coutesy Debapriya Bswas)
Design Hackathon for Urban Spaces started yesterday afternoon at Rabindra Tirtha. Ms Gita Balakrishnan, Mr B K Sengupta and Mr Dilip Sengupta were present besides senior officers of NKDA and HIDCO and IIA. About 100 students from various colleges attended.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Crowdsourced SMS based Street Light Monitoring

At NKDA, System Manager Pritam Thakur demonstrated today how we can use a crowd sourcing mechanism to monitor functioning of street lights of New Town. Reports of street lights not working from any resident would be fed to a computer and the informantrec would be intimated by SMS as soon as it is regitered, and again when the defect is rectified. In case a  specified time limit exceeds, the reasons thereof - e.g. bursting of a cable etc - would also be intimated. I saw a trial demonstration today and it appeared that another fortnight would be required to stabilise and test launch the application. A notable point of the system is that one can give inputs by telephone as well as email.
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ToI dt 28 March 2016

Ei Samay dt 28 March 2016
Ei Samay dt 28 March 2016
Times of India dt 28 March 2016
(Above and below) Abp dt 28 March 2016

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Consultants Appointed for Biswa Bangla Convention Centre operations

After a bid process, Consultants M/s Feedback Infra have been appointed as consultants to conduct bids for operations of the State Convention Centre now being built by L&T. A kick off meeting has been scheduled on Tuesday next.

Managing a huge convention centre with a massive 3,000 seater auditorium, two 400 seater halls, seminar rooms, reception and exhibition centre, multi level car parking, 100 room guest house annexe, kitchen and housekeeping, gym and library etc is a matter that is best left to professionals. At least three star hotel operators have already evinced interest. So a proper bid document and agreement to operate has to be drawn up that will be properly balanced to protect the interests of the government and to interest the private operator too. The urgency is that often the chosen operator may have certain 'house rules " (e.g., we only use black tiles in wash rooms etc) and we are finalising these already. Only yesterday, I had a detailed field inspection with L&T, architects DMA and Hidco Engineers to consider sample lay out of floor tiles of the reception area. A more detailed meet will be held on Monday where a team from L&T's Chennai unit will come for a day's discussions at site.
It may be added that already professional enquiries are coming in for reserving the Convention Centre from early 2017.

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Market Survey for Smart Wi Fi

I had a detailed discussions with transaction advisor M/s KPMG last Monday. The objective was to create a model through reverse e-auction by inviting interested service providers to cover New Town with "Wi Fi on Demand".

We want, as part of Smart City Plan, to create an infrastructure such that any resident or any visitor or any tourist could get access to Wi Fi at economical rates. Somewhat like electricity connections: you may apply to CESC/WBSECDL/NTESC and you get power for your home and you pay as you consume.

There could be many ways to do this. One way would be to install convertors on mobile towers that convert cellular data to Wi Fi data (many dongles like Docomo, Airtel etc already does this on a small scale). Another way would be to lay optical fibres on road sides and Access Points at strategic places. Yet another way could be use of satellite TV infrastructure (messages are often received in Tata Sky screens). There could even be a combination of these as well as an attempt to use cable TV network and Wi Fi Access Points. The Wi Fi on Demand would, of course, be accessible by all subscribers (irrespective of whether you do or do not subscribe to Vodafone/ BSNL etc) and be ideally giving speeds comparable to fixed broadband but available to the moving person on foot / car/ cycle/ bus/ metro etc. on parks, bus stations roads etc.

KPMG advised us to go for a market study and consult telecom service providers, dish TV operators and others to arrive at a financial model that would work. Thereafter, we could go in for a reverse auction wherein the starting point could be the cost of laying infrastructure (in phase with demand) payable to the operator and sharing the revenue returns anticipated.

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Times of India dt 26 March 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hackathon, Loktirtha, Antaranga Spartacus and Swimmng

Summer is round the corner and a host of activities are planned for the week ahead.

Already Basanta Utsav was held for the fourth year at Rabindra Tirtha in the usual traditional manner on 23rd March, Tuesday. Large number of people not only from New Town but also  from Salt Lake and neighbouring villages attended. Additionally, the evening programme at Rabindra Tirtha - a first this year - was hugely successful where additional chairs had to be introduced in the hall.

Now the following are slated for next week:

27th March: Seven day "Antaranga Spartacus" at Eco Park
29th March: Three day Hackathon at Rabindra Tirtha ( )
1st April: Three day Loktitha Festival at Eco Urban Village
1st April: Swimming starts at Business Club as a regular activity.

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HT dt 25 March 2016

Monday, March 21, 2016

Mother's Wax Museum Phase 2

At the 5th Floor of the Finace Centre Building, one floor below the existing Wax Museum, the work of expansion of the MWM began today. There will be more fun zones with an extended children zone, a Hollywood Zone, a Limca Book of Records Zone and a light zone. The target time is six months.
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Times of India dt 21 March 2016

Millennium Post dt 21 March 2016

Khabar 365 dt 21 March 2016

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Philatelic Cancellation Counter at Eco Park

Gate 4 Eco Park: Phitalely Counter to be opened
During her recent inauguration of smart post office in Action Area 2, Ms Arundhuty Ghosh, CPMG agreed to open a special philatelic counter in Eco Park / Mother's Wax Museum that would sell stamps and philately souvenirs and also make special cancellation stamps with line drawings of Eco Park / MWM to any postal object like picture post card, first day cover etc. Last week, Senior Superintendent of Post Offices, Director of Philatelic Bureau Kolkata and others met me at Hidco and we decided to give a counter in Gate4 of Eco Park for this. We also provided few photographs to aid the philatelic bureau to design the cancellation stamp.
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Asian Age dt 20 March 2016

(Top and below) : Khabar 365 dt 20 March 2016

Friday, March 18, 2016

Origin Destination for Solid Waste Management

To move towards a smart clean New Town, we are initiating several measures. Major streets are cleaned twice a day through mechanical sweepers whose activities are monitored through GIS applications. Compactors are used to collect solid waste from houses at predetermined times. Rs 50,000 fine has been proposed for illegal dumping of construction and demolition waste on streets that choke drainage. Rs 100 fine is imposed at Eco Park for littering.

Now we are analysing why certain pockets tend to get littered more than others. We also plan to use drones occasionally to keep an eye on pressure points like markets and bus stops.

An Origin-destination study (OD study is often used in transporation planning) indicates that, for example, a patch of land near Eco Space in Action Area 2 tends to get littered even after cleaning due to wastes from roadside food stalls that are situated at a distance of 200 m. While dealing with the issue of rehabilitating roadside food stalls is being taken up separately (design hackhathon will have a problem solve issue on this on 29 March) our officers from NKDA held meetings with shop owners and has persuaded them to keep bins and withholding wastes till a compactor solid waste truck comes at a time convenient to most stall owners every day. No one will dump solid waste anywhere other than on the compactor truck when it arrives. A supervisor has been posted to see that the agreed procedure is followed. I went there myself and talked to few persons on spot. Seems to work now. Afterward observing its progress we will see that all markets and roadside stalls also have a proper waste disposal mechanism.
Salt Lake Telegraph dt 18 March 2016

Khabar 365 dt 18 March 2016
Khabae 365 dt 17 March 2016

Millennium Post dt 14 March 2016 

Times of India dt 15 March 2016

Monday, March 14, 2016

315KV Transformer on Eco Island

Raft for transformer transportation to Eco Island

NTESCL transported a new 315 KVA transformer to the Eco Island to make its power supply more robust. This is most essential to cater to increased demands from wedding party reception and siilar other requirements. Thus the existing 161 KVA transformer capacity had to be supplemented.

But a 315 KVA transformer is very heavy. How to take it to the island which is only connected by means of a wooden footbridge at the back was a question that was debated by engineers at length. Boats plying in Eco Park Lake are incapable of carrying the huge load: these would just sink if the transformer was be ferried. Helicopters were ruled out as the very last resort as costs would be prohibitive. Finally, the famous Indian Jugaad ingenuity was invoked:  45 empty drums were rigged together to form a raft and this supported the weight of the transformer on water. A bamboo-and wooden frame kept the drums together. The raft was so made as to accommodate the legs of the transformer with no stability issues. Two joists (beams) were used to put the transformer on the raft and for unloading. There was a great sense of joy among us all at the success of the jugaad.
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Asian Age dt 14 March 2016

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Nazrul Tirtha > 50,000. Fee Parking

Recently, the number of visitors who came to Nazrul Tirtha to see a movie crossed the 50,000 mark. To organise parking issues properly, through a notification no 175/CP/BDN/C dt 2.3.2016, the parking areas around Nazrul Tirtha has been declared to be a "Parking Zone" and NKDA will soon deploying staff to collect parking fees using handheld devices.

In recognition of its growing popularity, we are planning to have special film events in Nazrul Tirtha. These may be retrospectives, short films, documentaries, thematic (Basanta-Utsav related, detectives Bangla (Feluda, Byomkesh, Kiriti) Rabindranath, Saratchandra etc) or animation. Details are being worked out.
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HT dt 13 March 2016

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Smart Post Office starts functioning

Smart Post Office

CPMG Ms Arundhati Ghosh
lighting lamp

Utility Building in AA2

A smart Post Office began its journey in Action Area 2 today. Located at Utility Building near Akankshya More, it has computerized banking facilities and will soon have Core Banking network. A total of six post offices will ultimately be set up in New Town. An ATM will also be set up: a site in the building is earmarked. The Rupay system (not Visa / Mastercard) will operate the ATM cards. Mr Subrat Das, PMG also promised to set up 20 letter boxes with mechanised pick ups and RFD tags. Special cancellation counters will also be set up in Eco Park and MWM.
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Ei Samay dt 12 March 2016

Millennium Post dt 11 March 2016

Salt Lake Telegraph dt 11 Mar 2016

Khabar 365 dt 11 March 2016
Khabar 365 dt 11 March 2016
HT dt 12 March 2016

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pet Care Clinic

In Swapna Bhor, a Pet Clinic started its operations today. The structure in Pets' Corner area of Swapna Bhor, is rented out to an entrepreneur who will run a Pet Care Clinic. I visited it this afternoon and saw a well decorated set up. The front portion is a store containing pet food, pet toys, pet shampoos etc. There is a doctor's chamber and an Operation theater. An interesting section deals with pet grooming: I was reminded of beauty clinics for women !

Two pics taken this afternoon:

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Salt Lake Telegraph dt 11 March 2016
(Above and below)

ToI dt 10 March 2016
ToI 9 March 2016
Pratidin dt 10 March 2016