Sunday, September 9, 2018

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in New Town

New Town is a Gold Rated certified Green City. It got the certificate from IGBC (Indian Green Building Council) recently. New Town is a city under the State Govt's Green City Mission.
New Town has been approved as one of the 100 Smart Cities of India.

It has three electric AC buses running successfully for the last four months within New Town: already more than 35,000 passengers have used it. It has e-Rickshaw stands and in the Bengalathon 2019 contest (now open: see https://bengalathon.wb.gov.in/ ) one of the problem statements relate to "Toto on Call". I myself use an electric e2o small vehicle for official works within Kolkata.
The idea of all these is to reduce carbon emissions and move towards a cleaner, greener sustainable  environment.

The idea is to encourage more and more people to use e-Vehicles. But electric vehicles (2, 3 or 4 wheelers) all suffer from "charge anxiety" where there is a worry about what would happen if charge suddenly runs out. For example , the e-car that I use to go to Nabanna from Hidco and back is just ok for a single charge (120 km) but I constantly monitor the battery power remaining. It would help if while I did my work at the destination the charge in the vehicle could be topped-up. A full charge requires 5 hours though.

There are fewer e-vehicles as there are no charging stations. There are no charging stations because there is no demand from e-vehicles. To change this chicken-n-egg problem, NKDA decided to put up few charging stations at suitable locations. These are just being commissioned.

Charging Station for Electric Vehicles 
near Rabindra Tirtha
Ten such charging stations have been installed, mostly near parking zones so that the e-car may get top up charge while waiting. Locations are at Parking lots near Rabindra Tirtha (see pic above, Tata Medical Centre, Nazrul Tirtha, Gates 1/ 4/ 6 of Eco Park,  CafĂ© Ekante. Axis Mall, Eco Urban Village and Central Mall.

In addition, Indian Oil's COCO (Company Operated Company Owned) smart outlet at Action Area 3 also has electric vehicle charging units. And for running the e-Buses, three heavy duty charging stations are located at bus terminal near Pride Hotel, AA3 Bus Stand near Sukhobristi and Eco Urban Village in AA2.




Sunday, September 2, 2018

Great Indian Dessert Festival in December 2018 at Misti Hub

Yesterday, at Hidco Conference room, I took a review of two months' performance of Misti Hub. The main objective was to wean away the complimentary support given by Hidco in terms of house keeping, security guards, care-taking, common services and also prepare for the ensuing festival season.

I was told that most shops had done very good business in the two months since Mist Hub opened. Several lakhs of rupees' worth business was transacted on both months and all were advised to contribute to the expenses incurred on common services.

We decided that by Viswakarma Puja day on 17 September, we should converge on few planned interventions to spread the footprint of Misti Hub. Some actions agreed to with all owners of the Misti Hub were as follows:

1. Home Delivery through Swiggy, Zomato etc would be tried
2. Office / corporate packet menu (assorted sweets, in packets, for distribution in short meetings) would be suggested by all Misti Hub shops
3. For common branding, a special prestige carry bag would be designed with Misti Hub logo. This would be of cloth or jute and of three sizes small, medium and large. Would be kept centrally at reception counter and any shop or guest may buy it from Hidco person on duty. Own bags of shops would also carry Misti Hub logo along with their own logo, either on the same side or on the reverse
4. The racks on the right / north side would be replaced by chairs to make more room for sitting
5. Bus branding would be made to spread the word on Misti Hub
6. TV displays in each shop would display menu and graphics would be provided to Hidco for installation.
7. Eco Park visitors would be given, on some days, a discount coupon if all shops of Misti Hub agreed (they said they would think, discuss and revert)
5. A special "Great Indian Dessert Festival" would be organised in December by a private organiser where Hidco/ Misti Hub would be a venue partner. This will be held in the bike stand behind Misti Hub. The organiser has already started campaign in social media and this is their title page graphics on Facebook:

The idea is to enhance the 'sweetness' of the area around Misti Hub by invoking sweet tastes from around the world. More such Misti Events would be held in future.


Few administrative points were also discussed. Co-ordinating nodal person would be assigned on rotation basis every three months (first has been K C Dass), hygiene/ cleanliness/ plastic cap for shop assistants/ insistence on uniform T shirt with Misti Hub Logo, nudging customers to throw their leftovers and used plates into the dust-bins themselves.


Monday, August 20, 2018

Own a residential plot in New Town? Open a foodie at ground floor.

Cake shop in New Town
On 8th August 2018, the 41st meeting of the NKDA Board took a decision that allows you to easily set up a tea bar or a cafe or a food joint on the ground floor of your residential home in New Town. Soft Drink Shop, Snack Bar, Tea/Coffee Shop, Ice-Cream shop, Dry Food Shop are the preferred options. A permission and a nominal fee is required, and a trade licence too, but it is quite easy and costs little.

Restaurant below a residential house
 This is to encourage commercial activity, create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunity, bring life to city space and improve a sense of safety to late night passers-by when the shops are open.

This is in addition to the roadside cafes being built by NKDA/HIDCO (Cafe Ekante Express at Chinar Park and AA1 bus terminus), Biriyani Bars atop pay-n-use toilets at three places (Rotary 1, Mela Ground and Gate 3 Eco Park), Misti Hub (near Owl More), Mother Dairy (near Tata Medical Centre and Swapna Bhor), Gautam's (at Cybersecurity Building), Annapurna (Sweet Shop on residential property), Eco Space / Kolkata Gate (planned), community markets (old police station and TCS Gitanjali).

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

New Town now a Certified Green City

New Town Kolkata is now a Green City. It got a Gold Certificate from IGBC (Indian Green Building Council) recently. The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) is part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and tries to enable a sustainable built environment for all. It is one of the two organizations whose green building certification is accepted by the State Government for award of additional FAR (Floor Area Ratio) . The IGBC also rates towns and cities for 'greenness'

New Town is a Solar City. It is one of the 100 Smart Cities of India. It is trying to be a Happy City and is collaborating with IIT Kharagpur in this. It is covered under the Green City Mission of the State Government. Meanwhile, WBHIDCO had voluntarily submitted itself to IGBC to see how far it is already proceeded in the matter of sustainability and environment-friendliness. On 20th July 2018, I received a letter from the IGBC stating that New Town has been awarded a Gold Rating. Here is the certificate:
For getting the rating, IGBC considers the following:
1. Eco Vision of the City
2. Land Use Planning
3. Health and Well Being
4. Sustainable Mobility
5. Water, Energy and Infrastructure Management
6. Information Technology
7. Innovation

In respect of 'Innovation', special mention has been made of Water ATMs (now three in Eco Park), bamboo railings for medians, Tall Tree Nursery (joint venture of WBHIDCO and Forest Department Corporation) and Pocket Forests. In respect of 'Information Technology', special mention has been made of GPS based Vehicle Tracking for effective Solid Waste Management, Automatic Controls for all street lights, e-Governance (property tax, certificates, building plans etc all are done on-line in New Town). In respect of Sustainable Mobility, e-Buses (now three) have been mentioned.

Few suggestions for improvement have also been given. For example, to achieve heat island mitigation, IGBC has recommended that high reflective roofing material or vegetation may be used on exposed roofs whenever possible. It has mentioned that public buildings should all be made barrier-free for differently abled persons.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Roundtable Meeting of AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) on Sustainable Cities

I am now in Mumbai, since yesterday evening. This is in response to an invitation from Dr. Joachim von Amsberg, AIIB Vice President for Policy & Strategy. Details of the event can be seen at https://www.aiib.org/en/news-events/events/annual-meeting/program/detail/sustainable-cities-strategy.html

The roundtable conference on Sustainable Cities took place today morning at Mumbai. Experts from Sri Lanka, HongKong, China, Singapore, Korea and India (that was me) spoke. They were interested in   focusing on how AIIB could better support infrastructure development in cities. They invited two groups of stakeholders, including senior city representatives (i.e. vice mayor for finance) and senior practitioner experts (e.g. CEO of HK MTR, VP of Shanghai Municipal Investment Corp, Veolia, and Korea Public and Private Infrastructure Investment Center). AIIB hopes to use the roundtable opportunity to establish first contact with the cities, and followed by continued interaction to explore possible collaboration. Details can be seen in the link above.

Lady opposite to me is Mayor of Colombo

Right: Vice President of AIIB
AIIB said they wanted to be different from World Bank, ADB etc and so wanted to understand new approaches including looking at city level models that have been successful. I narrated the journey of New Town and indicated how it was progressing towards a green city, an IT city with Silicon Valley. I suggested that AIIB could look at technology, electric cars etc and also mentioned that a pre-feasibility study for Monorail has been done. I invited Vice President to visit Kolkata.

I mentioned that New Town was a qualified Smart City among the 100 smart cities of India, that it was a Solar City designing to cut down carbon emissions, a Technology City with Fintech Hub and Silicon Valley Project launched, an inclusive city with care for the young and old, a densified city with additional FAR for optimum utilization of land, and was trying to, with IIT, move towards a Happy City. I invited AIIB to consider funding of technology infrastructure - including high speed broadband, electric vehicle charging network,  and monorail.

In the afternoon follow up, I learnt how shops and well-lit bus stops add to a feeling of security in deserted streets in some cities, and how, in these days of easy movement of capital and workforce, the quality of life and social infrastructure make investment decisions sway one way or the other.


Friday, June 8, 2018

Indo-Taiwan Cooperation : At Taipei, Taiwan

On the occasion of Computex 2018 at Taipei, Taiwan a special seminar was organised today at Taipei. The Chief Secretary Govt of Taiwan, the Secretary General of the Indo-Taiwan Association and the Director General of India as well as CII and many delegates from India and Taiwan were present. On behalf of West Bengal I made a presentation, the only state to do so.

I invited all to visit Bengal, provided statistics, video and graphs to show how Bengal has been making rapid strides in IT&E sector. I mentioned that Kolkata was the closest international airport of India for Taiwanese investors. I mentioned that Bengal was power surplus, with no lost mandays in last 6 years and was the top state in India in Ease of Doing Business.

A booklet on IT&E in West Bengal was, on my request, released at the conference by the Chief Secretary of Taiwan.

Many subsequent speakers thereafter began to refer to Bengal's progress as an example as to why Taiwan should look at India.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Iconic Eco Park Bridge

Design of Bridge Between Herbal Garden and Eco Island

Zone  no 31 of Master Plan showwed a Bridge:  December 2011

Bridge as shown in Master Plan
The island has evolved differently in the past 5 years. There are Ekante Cottages, Cafe Ekante and
Utsari Glass Cottage. It is a popular wedding, corporate and tourism destination.
The Board of Hidco met yesterday and approved construction of an iconic, designer, suspension bridge to connect the 7 acre Eco Island with the Eco Park. At a point where the gap is narrowest, on the northern end of the island. This was the location of the proposed bridge as per the Master Plan drawn up in 2011-2012. Till date, the connectivity is maintained - other than by boat - by a two-step wooden bridge. Two step because it connects a small intermediate island in between. With continued use, and especially with increasing use by battery powered vehicles (eco carts or cargo totos) for ferrying senior guests or for carrying goods (you need to take in food stuff and stocks daily and take out wastes), the wooden bridge is not expected to be sufficient in future. Already, an expert group from the Department of Irrigation and Waterways has done a health check and has recommended re-paintings with thick bitumen for logs which are under water.

The new bridge will be of concrete and steel. It will be an iconic suspended bridge, of length 135 m and width 3.5m. While approving the proposal, Hidco Board stressed on the need for making the structure match the character of Eco Park.

Tenders will be invited soon.