Monday, November 20, 2017

Senior Living in Rajarhat New Town

Eco Park Toy Train Ride: For the Young and the Senior

Rajarhat New Town is designed for all, young and old. That is why there are Sonar Kella Park, Vivek Tirtha and Shishu Tirtha for the Children but also Swapna Bhor for the Seniors.  New Town Business Club and star hotels in New Town co-exist with Swapna Bhor and Snehodiya, the a new generation independent living habitat expected to be commissioned in 2018.
Swapna Bhor consists of a long walking path around a large lush green lawn. There are handrails in the pathway and tactile projections on the path. Four golden Buddhas, two aviaries and a large central aquarium add a sense of tranquillity and peaceful living. Garden swings and bamboo covered gazebos allows members to enjoy nature. Laughing arena, kitchen garden and pet shop allow networking among members. An e-Health clinic with modern diagnostic devices offer health check-up facilities within the campus.

The community building is a stunning architecture reminiscent of British India’s pavilions on the race course. Overlooking a large green playground, its first floor wide balcony offers a ringside view of what goes on in the greens below. Two air-conditioned community halls adorned with original paintings and tasteful interiors host cultural events, educative talks and dance performances every now and then. The ground floor has a reading room and library with a coffee shop, where book releases are organised on and off, reminding one of the Oxfordbookstore in Park Street or Delhi. The adjoining games room is privy to many indoor games and competitions on carom generate enthusiastic participation. Group tours and Sunday evening functions are very popular among the 500 members of Swapna Bhor, the only dedicated seniors’ facility of its kind in India.

Opposite Swapna Bhor, across the road on the northern side, a 100 room independent living habitat is being built. Application forms are on sale. There are 100 plus AC rooms, each with an attached restroom, a sitting/living space and a bedroom, furnished in a senior friendly manner. Common facilities and lounge on each floor, attendant in every two floors, basic support services and add-on ones. Tastefully decorated on the rural Bangla cottages stacked one above the other, two floors even have its own walking space balcony.

Snehodiya and Swapno Bhor will complement each other in ways that have not happened anywhere in the country in terms of adding value for a second innings in one’s life.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Residential Plots

In the Hidco stall at Realty Expo now being held at Netaji Indoor Stadium we are displaying many innovative models being adopted to cater to different segments of the state and society. This is an age of personalisation and we think that products must follow the individual's preferences.

The most innovative example out on display is the residential plots at Gitabitan Township at Santiniketan. There are over 400 plots but 154 are right now put out for application. More than 500 brochures have been sold and completed applications are being accepted in designated bank branches. Lottery will be held to determine the allottees. The point to note - the innovativeness - is that the pots will be given with sanctioned building plans. Thus the owner doesn't have to engage an architect, get all clearances and apply for sanction of the plan. The plot with a sanctioned plan will be allotted together. The owner will also be given the option of getting the house made through a govt agency (SSDA) at a pre-fixed cost, of which there will be three or more options depending on finishing preferences. Of course, the owner will also be free to engage her own agency or worksmen too.

An equally innovative approach is about allotment of suites / rooms in Snehodiya, a habitat for senior citizens in New Town, located just opposite to Swapna Bhor, the Seniors' Park. You pay an amount (say Rs 25 lakhs) initially but get back 75% on vacating it, no matter how long you actually occupy. Thus, upon the demise of an occupant, 75% of the money is to be received back by the nominee who can then use it to buy her / his own property. Or if the occupant shifts and vacates. Once vacant, the suite is to be reallotted to another senior applicant. No interest however is payable and food / housekeeping charges are payable monthly.

And perhaps for the first time, we are putting up 25 residential plots on e-auction. This was based on our experience that for 75 plots in the same area of New Town, for the HIG category, there were about 1:30 applicants. Thus, for every plot, there were 29 dissatisfied persons. Now they can participate in an e-auction that allows an applicant who pays the EMD of Rs 1.5 lakhs 25 opportunities, if he / she so likes to apply, of outbidding other bidders. Te last date of application for appearing in the e-auction is in the last week of this month (Nov 2017).

Details are being explained in the Hidco pavilion at Netaji Indoor Stadium.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Singapore Fintech Festival : Panel Discussion

At panel discussion at Singapore
The topic of the panel discussion at the Singapore Fintech Festival at Singapore Expo (name of the convention centre) was: India: Opportunities and Challenges in Fintech.

The session was moderated by Ms Ritu Singh of CNBC. Other panelists were from SBI, Axis Bank and Venture Capitalist.

I mentioned that Fintech and Blockchain holds the promise to India with its digitised economy, 99% Adhar coverage of adults, and increasing trend of FinTech adoption. I mentioned that early development was happening in Kolkata (Fintech Hub and Blockchain), Vizag (Fintech) and Mumbai (Fintech City).

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Blockchain For Bengal

Yesterday we had a meeting with various stakeholders in the IT&E Sector and deliberated on the way forward for strategy to be adopted in 2018 for positioning Bengal as a leader in the Global New Technology Eco System.

We recognised that unilateral vertical knowledge silos no longer work: this is the age of networking, clustering and co-working . It is not enough to man a centre with experts knowing C++, Java, Python or Ionic2 codes: there must be inputs from other field specialists as well. With traditional skills of Bengal in mathematics and statistics, with the existence of Indian Statistical Institute as well as other institutions like IIT, IIIT, IIEST,  IIM, Presidency, Science College, Bose Institute, SINP and more, Bengal has been producing a large amount of leadership in Cybersecurity, Fintech and Data Sciences the world over in recent years.

We therefore decided to project the game-changing Blockchain Technology to be the anchor theme for Bengal's strategy in the IT World in the short and medium term. Blockchain has deep linkages to FinTech, Data Sciences and Cybersecurity and indeed all of these are related to each other at a deep level. Blockchains provide secured public databases that are free from cyber attacks. Blockchain Technology is the basis of Bitcoins, Ethereums and Initial Coin Offerings in the realm of FinTech zone. Blockchain is linked to data sciences in public database managements.

A recent report in Economist suggests that the latest frenzy in global markets is cryptocurrency. It is a derivative of Blockchain Technology. The price of the best known cryptocurrency, bitcoin, has risen by 700% last year. ICOs or Initial Coin Offerings have drawn in more than $3.2 billion in crowd-sourced funds this year, as per the report.

In New Town, a FinTech Hub has already been conceptualized, near the Financial Hub, where tech firms and New Technology Ventures will be provided space to work with Financial Institutions - of which 23 have already taken up space in the Finance Hub. A wing of a new building, designed architecturally to be IT friendly, in New Town will house a Centre of Excellence on Cybersecurity. A call has been given to Blockchain experts to create a pilot scheme of land records in Sector 5 and New Town. And West Bengal is participating in the India Pavilion in the Singapore FinTech Festival next week.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Drone Centre

In New Town Smart City proposal, I had proposed monitoring and surveillance of cleanliness, traffic jams, road repair and solid waste management monitoring using drones. DJI Phantom drones are available with cameras at less than Rs 1 lakh at various e commerce sites. But import of drones - most are Chine made - are not allowed. Very recently, the Civil Aviation Ministry has brought out a draft policy. We went through it today and jotted down our observations. For example, we have suggested that night flying may be allowed for enabling wedding photographs to be taken. We will soon write to DGCA.

In particular, and among others, we will promote designated areas in Kalyani, Falta, Naihati and Kolkata as drone testing and demonstration zones. We will also encourage Sonarpur hardware manufacturing park as a preferred destination for manufacturing drones by giving plots at affordable rates.
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West Bengal is seriously considering to become a hub of drone manufacturing in India. The recently published “Requirements for Operation of Civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)” was reviewed by IT&E Department and the feedback on the guidelines are being shared with DGCA. Department of IT & E, Government of West Bengal and Webel, is in consultation with different organisations focusing on drone manufacturing, assembling and providing training on Unmanned Aircraft flying. They are also taking the opinion of the different authorities like Kolkata Police, Kolkata Municipal Corporation and other eminent personalities experienced in Defence and Air Operations. The State Government is aiming to leverage the existing infrastructure in Kalyani, Naihati, Falta to make the state as the Drone Manufacturing epicenter of the country.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Technology for Cities : Facial Recognition

Discussion with IBM team, Police, Hidco and NKDA yesterday, 19th October 2017 at Hidco
We had a brainstorming session yesterday with IBM team led by Mr Anindya Mitra, Director, Sandipan Sarkar, Executive Architect IBM, Assistant Commissioner of Police, and HIDCO/NKDA senior officers. The objective was to pinpoint use of cutting edge technology for helping the man on the street. I mentioned that using AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Facial Recognition techniques through live analysis of CCTV feeds people committing crimes or petty nuisances could be identified: we could send fine notices to men who committed nuisance on road or dirtied public places. Public spaces would also be safer for women if real-time analysis of CCTV feeds could send alarm to police in live mode. We also talked of using analytics on CCTV in real time to predict traffic accidents / collisions and make the roads safer than now. Preventing traffic jams before they happen would also be a desired outcome.
Executive Software Architect IBM Mr S Sarkar said that access to photographic archives like driving licences, aadhar etc would be helpful. I mentioned that the 9th Sep 2017 issue of The Economist carried a cover story entitled "Nowhere to Hide: What Machines can tell from your face" and that we could harness the advances for real life benefits.
The IBM team would  visit the control room of Bidhannagar Police Commissionarate and revert to us with a concept note.

Friday, October 13, 2017

A jewel in the sky: Biswa Bangla Convention Centre to be inaugurated today 13 Oct 2017

Hon'ble Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will inaugurate the Biswa Bangla Convention Centre today at 6pm. I'll post more photos later. A write-up is given below. See my special comments at end :)
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Government of West Bengal has developed  a state of the art Township  named New Town Kolkata through West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (WBHIDCO). The township  has a designed  population  of 10.00 lakhs  with 5.00 lakhs floating  people.   Major infrastructure  of the township are almost complete including roads, electricity, drainage, sewerage system etc. with modern facilities.
It has undertaken  a considerable  number of projects which are unique  in the country such as :
Eco Park :  It has developed  a huge Eco  Park titled as ‘Prikriti Tirtha’  with around  480 acres of land including  water bodies of around 100 acres.
Mother’s Wax Museum is developed as a great attraction to the visitors .  It has also value added features to the City of Kolkata.
Rabindra Tirtha and Nazrul Tirtha  have been developed  which have become important centres  in the field of art and culture of Bengal.
A well designed park  named “Swapno Bhor” has been developed for senior people of the city . Besides a Senior citizens home named “Snehodiya’ is coming up.
It has also become an important non-polluted industrial center of  Kolkata  where around 70,000 people are already  working in the IT & ITeS sector.
A well designed  Financial & Legal hub is coming up  very rapidly.
A ‘Business Club’  is developed  by NKDA with modern facilities like swimming pools, Tennis court, Basket Ball court, Gymnasium , badminton court etc.
To give the city a smart and modern shape, Wi-Fi facility is on along the Biswa Bangla Sarani .
WBHIDCO has also developed Eco Urban Village along with   water bodies .
Biswa Bangla Convention Centre:
A  huge Convention Centre titled as “Biswa Bangla Convention Centre” has been developed recently which has  added another  valued feather to the city and is scheduled to be opened by Hon’ble Chief Minister, West Bengal  on 13th October, 2017.   A 100 plus room  annexed star hotel is also coming up  in the same campus.
The major features of this Convention Centre are :
A mega Convention Hall with a seating capacity of 3200 people.
2 large Exhibition-cum-Banquet halls with a total carpet area of 9050 sq.ft.
2 small  Exhibition-cum-Banquet halls with a total carpet area of 5110 sq.ft.
Spacious pre-function area in 3 floors having a carpet area of 12500 sq.ft. in each floor.
2 smaller capacity auditoriums  each with a seating capacity of 400 people are coming up.
Extensive Food and beverage facilities during conferences catered through provision of banquet  kitchens and satellite kitchens  at all the levels of conferences.
A Multi-level car parking facility is available.
In the meantime,   already booking enquiries till 2019 are being received and dates are being blocked by various organizations for professional conventions and other uses which is most encouraging.
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My special comments:
This is the only huge auditorium that is located in the sky: the stage / dias is at 17 metre level - at level 4 - supported by stilts. The idea is to make its towering height visible from a long distance.  The shape is like a gem, a diamond, by using 20m projection for the upper gallery. See the logo of the Convention Centre in the picture above. The visual impact is unique and stunning. As if someone is holding aloft a gem in the sky with an outstretched hand.

The space below the elevated auditorium contains a focal atrium that is so beautiful that it has to be experienced. Its shape reminds subtly of a jewel. A grand staircase with subtle white-on-white designs descends to the hollow to the level zero which has 3 banquet halls and art gallery. Two banquet halls have towering heights that add to the awe. A fourth hall is on level 2. The entrance at level two welcomes with a black-on-black granite pattern into a scenario of tungsten bulbed ceiling (modernity) and Bangla handicrafts (culture) on the walls and all around. A conch shell installation welcomes the visitor to the grand  descending staircase.

There is an art gallery at level 0 and exhibition spaces in level 0 and 1 and 4 where the main auditorium is located. 3,200 seats: 2,000 in lower tier, 1,000 on upper. A distance from the last audience so large that the audio electronic circuit has a delay introduced to prevent echo to allow sound waves which travel slow to catch up.

The dais is so large that that the height is equivalent to a three storied house. All wings, backdrops and cyclorama are motor controlled. A building management centre keeps an eye on what's happening through 100 CCTVs.

The top of the 5 level car parking is an elevated podium with green lawns and infinity water pool - infinity because water continuously rolls out of the edge like an unending waterfall.

No wonder, BBCC is getting booking enquiries till 2019. The first convention of 3,000 doctors will take place in November this year. It is an important addition in making Kolkata a preferred M.I.C.E destination.
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