Friday, September 30, 2016

Shubho Mahalaya :)

Shubho Mahalaya to all from Urban Journal !

At New Town, I convened a brainstorming session some days ago to strategise out with senior officers how we could increase footfalls in New Town. I gave each of the centre managers a target of "+15%" that is, they were to find out what the footfalls were in last Puja time and achieve a 15% increase. We discussed few broad approaches but left the managers to come up with detailed plans.

Thus there were combo offers and discounts, decorating lights and dhaker sound, cultural events and day cottages, digital wallets and extra outlets / kiosks. Some of this is encapsulated in the picture above. This is also published in today's Calcutta Times.

There will be jingles on FM, clips on TV, announcements on social media and "inserts" (inserts are the paper leaflets inserted within the newspaper so that it reaches people's homes along with the morning paper).
* * *
HT page 1 dt 30 Sep 2016

Salt Lake Telegraph dt 30 Sep 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Convention Centre : Bookings !

Artist's impression of Biswa Bangla Convention Centre
While we are trying to complete the Biswa Bangla Convention Centre within this financial year, many are showing a great deal of interest. It will generate a new brand of business tourism and as many international events require 2 years or more to organise, we are already receiving a number of specific requests for boooking. Some are as follows:
- Indian Chest Society: Nov 2017
- Indian Institute of Anasthesiologists: Nov 2017
- Cardiological Society of India: December 2017
- Lions Isaame Forum: December 2017

* * *
t2 (The Telegraph) dt 29 Sep 2016

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Developing Green Cities

We are trying to organise a national seminar on Greenfield Cities in January 2017. This is to share and innovate with other growing towns such as Naya Raipur, Amaravati, Navi Mumbai, Amby Valley, Lavasa etc. Such greenfield towns share common problems of population lagging behind infrastructure so that markets and public transportation options are limited and this in turn inhibits more people from coming in. Further, building up good practices, tackling municipal services, using IT etc also needs to be studied and best practices popularised
* * *
Times of India dt 28 Sep 2016

Milennium Post dt 27 September 2016
Millennium Post dt 28 Sep 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016

Waterfront Development of Bagjola Near Convention Centre

Artist's Impression of landscaped canalfront near State Convention Centre

With co-operation of Irrigation Department, we will upgrade the waterfront near the Biswa Bangla Convention Centre that is now being built by Hidco. Hon'ble CM advised on way to Murshidabad in train today (I am writing this now from Berhampore) to upgrade the waterfront adjacent to it and also see if a floating market on boats could be made. I spoke to Naveen Prakash Pr Secretary Irrigation in the train to help me by improving the water quality. He has agreed to conduct a survey. We will also take help of an architect of IIA (Indian Institute of Architects) to help us do the project.
* * *
Millennium Post dt 26 September 2016

Wheels issue dt 15 August 2016

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Collaboration with State Fisheries Development Corporation

Yesterday at the Hidco Board meeting, it was decided to hand over possession of 100 ha of water bodies in New Town to Fisheries Department's SFDC. A space in Eco Park's Heliconia Garden would also be given to SFDC for opening its food stall "All Fish".

The decision to hand over water bodies was based upon a directive of Hon'ble Chief Minister in a meeting at Town Hall on 3 June 2016 that for proper farming of fish, different water bodies of different departments should be handed over to Fishery Department. Accordingly, the water bodies at Upasanasthal (AA1D, 8.74 ha), Water Treatment Plant (AA1. 30 ha), Eco Urban Village (AA2, 15 ha), SWM Area (Chhapna, AAIIID, 30 ha) and Diler Bheri (AA1, 17 ha) were identified for being handed over to SFDC on an as is where is basis on a 50:50 profit sharing basis after a moratorium of one year. The Eco Park lake, however, would continue to be with Hidco for now. The "All Fish" stall however would be given on a rental basis. Mr Soumyajit Das, MD SFDC in a discussion yesterday after the Board meeting indicated that he'd try to open the All Fish stall in Eco Park by next Sunday (2 Oct).  Incidentaly, SFDC is running an SFDC restaurant at Nalban since some time. It was further decided yesterday that Hidco would source its fish requirement for Cafe Ekante from SFDC as much as possible.

* * *
Khabar 365 dt 25 September 2016

Millennium Post dt 25 Sep 2016
Anandabazar dt 25 Sep 2016

Saturday, September 24, 2016


I attended today a round-table conference on Improving Air Quality in Kolkata, an event at Hotel Hindustan International arranged jointly by the US Counsulate General, Global Change and Banglanatak. I learnt that the SOx and NOx levels in air of Kolkata was good but suspended solids were a problem. The problem aggravates during winter and improves during monsoons. It was agreed that awareness and co-operative efforts were necessary to combat the problem in the long and short terms. Mr Craig Hall, US Consul General, Prof Joyashree Roy, Greg Perdo and others spoke. Mr Hall spoke of the book Silent Spring (1960s) that triggered the environment movement in the US.

I mentioned about Amitava Ghosh's recent book "The Great Derangement". I also said that the State Government is launching a Green City Mission, that this had many components including plantation, energy positiveness, efficient appliances, green buildings, electrical mobility etc and that during a citizen feedback session in New Town, air quality came out as one of the top two concerns. I explained the measures taken since then and added that to rely more on solar energy, I was looking for technology that would allow solar panels to be toughened so as to be laid on city roads. After the meeting, a participant informed me that he had seen such experiments in Netherlands and indeed later sent me the following link .  He promised me to get me more details later after his visit to Amsterdam later this year. I have told that Solar City New Town would try out a pilot project.
* * *

Times of India dt 24 September 2016

Millennium Post dt 24 September 2016
Bartaman dt 24 Sep 16

Friday, September 23, 2016

Outdoor Advertisement Plan

Representatives from DMITS came over from Delhi to New Town today and gave a presentation on outdoor advertisement policy. I said after the presentation that we would be interested in a Master Plan for New Town.
The Genesis of the matter came from a letter from MoUD that forwarded and recommended a proposal that in smart cities, good public service can be ensured through revenue generation from outdoor advertising. In course of the discussions, I mentioned that in many cases it was seen that the promised services and maintenance of the utilities were not done y advertsing agencies who were oly interested till their advts were up. As such, the revenue opportunities should be harnessed by public bodies directly and O&M operations could be separately dealt with by specialised organisations out of this revenue or otherwise. However, in the name of revenue generation, visual pollution should be avoided and aesthetics should be given due importance. Se a master plan with optimium pin-pointed sites and sizes should be drawn up where Hidco would construct the displays and maintain smart street furniture out of this revenue.

* * *

Abz dt 22 Sep 2016

Millennium Post dt 23 September 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

New Ticket Counter at Gate 1

On Viswakarma Puja Day, 17 Sep, we opened new ticket counter in Eco Park Gate 1. Five counters - instead of the present one - are there to be used during the weekends/ festival periods. Automatic metro-type card-operated gates are also being tried out and will be fully commissioned soon. These are to cater to the increasing footfalls into Eco Park. Already 55 lakh visitors have entered since its inception in 2013
* * *
Millennium Post dt 21 September 2016

Millennium Post 21 Sep 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Adhaar Seeding

In our weekly review meeting at Hidco, we decided to request allottees and plot holdeers of land in New Town to provide Adhar numbers. This helps in long term for inheritance, mutation and transfer of property.
ToI dt 19 Sep 16

HT dt 19 Sep 2016

Khabar 365 dt 19 Sep 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Space Saving Water Recycling

As part of the Green City Mission, we are planning to recycle and re-use waste water. Sewage water, the black water that originates from domestic toilets and other liquid waste sources is typically treated in small septic tanks / soak-pits in rural/ semi-urban areas and is treated in sewage treatment plants in cities like New Town/ Salt Lake etc. The conventional STP (Sewage Treatment Plant) technology however has two disadvantages (a) it takes up a large amount of area and (2) its level of purification (30 BOD) is just fit for release into the environment (ie canals and rivers) but unfit for any use.

We were looking for modular space saving recyclable technology for the yet-unbuilt STP for Action Area 3 of New Town. Yesterday, even during the Viswakarma day, we had a detailed discussion with PHE and Hidco Engineers. We decided to opt for a smart solution. We decided to go for SBR (Sequential Batch Reactor) technology that will consume less land area (up to 50% less) and produce clean water (5 BOD). We will use the water to supply to Eco Park, children's gardens (there are eight in New Town), avenue plantations and road cleaning. The land area saved will be used to set up a modern solid waste processing plant.
* * *
HT dt 18 Sep 2016

HT dt 18 Sep 2016

Khabar 365 dt 18 Sep 2016

Khabar 365 dt 18 Sep 2016

Ekdin dt 18 Sep 2016

Asian Age dt 18 Sep 2016

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Staff Workout for Cafe Ekante at Eco Island

Me with Saurav Sarkar at the beginning of the session

Yesterday morning, the staff of Cafe Ekante, along with volunteers of Karmyog, were given a workout by Karmayogi Saurav Sarkar. It was held at Utsari Glass Hall in Eco Park's Island. At 6.30 in the morning, the two hour session started with combined singing and light aerobics in rhythm. The feedback was good and I could see that the staff were liking it. Saurav Sarkar explained to me that just as people like us go to yoga classes and aerobics, people working at grassroots level also had need for mental and physical rejuvenation but such workouts necessarily had to be organised close to where they worked. So here it was, right adjacent to their place of work, the staff of Cafe Ekante. Here is a link to a story on Karmayog Foundation's work on Bagjola canalfront that appeared earlier this year.
* * *
HT dt 17 Sep 2016

Anandabazar dt 17 Sep 2016

Times of India dt 17 September 2016

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Singur Divas

Although District Review was postponed, Chief Secretary and all secretaries including me went to Singur in Volvo Bus arranged for us, as in District Review meetings. It rained in between and we all got drenched in the open stage. But the electrifying speech of Hon'ble CM mesmerized the crowd and it was great to be a witness of a historical day.
* * *
Asian Age dt 14 September 2016

Millennium Post dt 14 September 2016

Times of India dt 14 September 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Design of Light Sculpture

Ms Gita Balakrishnan of IIA (Indian Institute of Architects) along with her team met me day before yesterday and handed over the complete design of a Light Sculpture in Eco Park. This is the first complete output of the two-day Design Hackhathon that was held in Rabindra Tirtha some time ago (March 2016). This was an example of involving students of architecture and engineering in proposing improvements in the public space. Now the engineering wing of Hidco will take the project forward.

* * *
Times of India dt 13 September 2016

Millennium Post dt 13 September 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Kite Competition at Eco Park

Now Superman is in kites too.

On 17th Sep Biswakarma Puja Day, we will have a kite flying competition. There will be traditional 'battles' in the sky and the last three to survive would be given prizes. There will be exhibition kites on the lake water too, using the flat boat.
* * *
Asian Age dt 12 Sep 2016

Millennium Post dt 12 Sep 2016

HT dt 12 September 2016

Ei Samay dt 12 Sep 2016
Ei Samay dt 12 Sep 2016