Thursday, December 30, 2010
At Loharinag Pala of Uttarakhand, NTPC was constructing a Hydroelectric Project. There was agitation that this would disturb the environment and the would adversely affect the Ganga river. But work had already started. Govt of Uttarakhand demanded compensation for the stopped project from Govt of India. To this, Pranab Mukherjee reacted sharply. He argued that this would open floodgate where future projects might start without environment clearance and then demand compensation for stopping it due to non-receipt of environmental clearances. He argued that both development and environment should go in parallel and both were joint responsibility of central and state governments and question of compensation cannot arise. A group of secretaries were formed to see if additional electrical power could be made available to Uttarakhand.
There was a rare faux pas at the beginning of the meeting. Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde complained that though he was present in the previous meeting of NGRBA presided over by PM, the minutes circulated did not mention his attendance. Shri Jairam Ramesh apologised and promised that revised minutes would be circulated immediately.
At 9.30 pm, we met Union FM at his office. He will go to Fulbari in Jalpaiguri district to inaugurate a land custom station.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
The first meeting of the National Task Force on PPP for Affordable Housing was held today in Delhi. I came out of the PPP seminar at ITC Maurya at 11 am and went to Nirman Bhavan to attend the meet as its member. I outlined the West Bengal experience including JVC/Assisted Sector initiated projects where 50% of the housing stock must be for EWS/LIG. I told of on-line plan sanction in New Town, which basically works on a system of self certification by professionals like registered architects.
I was assigned the task of doing an in-depth study as to how Development Authorities can help PPP ventures in getting projects cleared quickly for Affordable Houses to take place in the PPP / Private Mode. The self-certification route is also to be explored more fully. As suggested by Secretary Ms Kiran Dhingra, I think I'll do a case study in ADDA (Asansol Durgapur Development Authority.
.I have a month to do so.
(Posted at T3 Airport Terminal Delhi: flight to Kolkata delayed by one and a half hour. It will leave at 9.25 pm it seems)
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
In the panel discussion at the Water Exchange, I made the following points:
(1) Capacity building is a step in right direction. But manpower shortage at ULB levels is also a real problem.
(2) Correct DPR and clear assessment of UfW (Unaccounted-for-Water) is necessary for PPP
(3) Chairpersons of ULBs must be sensitised. Political 'race to the bottom' (water user charges are being made free) must be stopped.
(4) For equity reasons (how will the poor pay water user charges?), PPP for water may succeed better for supplementary quality water supply system coexisting with municipal water system (think of the co-existence of bottled/mineral water and municipal tap water or co-existence of unleaded 'normal' petrol and 'speed' fuel).
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I learnt a lot. Some things that stuck:
(1) We must follow an alternate path for development. We must recognise that the city system is a living organism, and planning must aim to re-inforce the natural fluxes (water, sun, wind etc). For example, streets must be laid keeping wind direction in view.
(2) Walk to work: socially acceptable compact city form must be developed.
(3) Energy efficient, climate resilient city design
(4) Comfort of public space (no rushing from one air conditioned zone to another ac zone in an ac vehicle). Linear green and blue open spaces (I also thought of Shantiniketan's Chhatimtala).
(5) Behaviour change (cycle for poor, car for rich: change mindset)
(6) Freight transport management
(7) RRR (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), PPPP (Public Private people Partnership)
(8) French drain (perforated drainage pipes to allow groundwater recharging) & permeable pavements
(9) Congestion tax to subsidise cycles
I also made a few remarks.
It was a pleasure meeting Jeffry again: I thought what he said made sense. It was gratifying to note that even Dr Johannes Flacke was in the audience: I knew he'd be flying back to Germany today. Interacting and hearing Prof Misra and other speakers were also great.
* * *
In the evening, I was in a lively panel discussion at the Palladium Lounge. It was organised by Young Indians / CII. I remembered that I attended one event of CII/Yi last year too, when I was in the Election Commission. It was great meeting Dr Kedia once again.
This time we talked on Innovations in Urbanisation. I thought it went off well. At the end (after saying a lot of other things including citizen behaviour change, I suggested that we should launch a campaign "Amaar Kolkata" (My Calcutta). I thought it struck a chord with the audience
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I liked how Prof TNMajumdar of IIT analysed Haldia's transportation goof-ups. The presentation was clear, logical and concise. Over lunch, I discussed if he could suggest a new road alignment that will open up industrial possibilities and if Durgachak-Haldia can be developed as a bipolar township through a rapid transport (metro rail / Bus rapid transport) link.
I also became acquainted with Dr Johannes Flacke of ITC University, Netherlands and his work. He told us how ITC is making complex GIS applications fit for citizen consultation through large touch tables ("giant i-phone-like screens"). We agreed over lunch that it'd be a good idea to visit his university if and when I ever visit Netherlands (I'd been to Amsterdam in 2004 on a 2-day visit when I was studying in ENA, France).
Ms Anandita Sengupta, who is doing a research project with Dr Flacke, also made a presentation. The basic idea of mapping vulnerability by judging the hazardousness of an industry (think of Bhopal) and the susceptibility of houses (think of mud houses vs concrete houses) was quite innovative, I thought.
All in all, it was a day very well spent (I left Kolkata at 6.30 am and returned at 8 pm) where I learnt a lot and also presented my views from a macro level, during the inaugural session.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
The event is being organised by DEA in collaboration with Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank. I quote below the objective of the conclave:
"The objective of the conclave is to take stock of developments in the PPP space so far and set course for the future, so that the target of private participation for the XII Plan period, which has tentatively been fixed at US$ 500 billion can be achieved".
* * *
I attended a meeting at the Planning Commission in the morning. Among other things, I told that a Rs. 1,500 cr World Bank project preparation on development of secondary cities is being held up because of the conditionality imposed by World Bank that they would first like legislative action for withdrawal of the Urban Land Ceiling Act.
Friday, December 3, 2010
FM Pranab Mukherjee said that our urban strategy should be ecologically sustainable, economically productive and socially equitable. I thought he expressed it quite well.
* * *
Mayor of Kanpur described how the State CM was denuding all Mayors of UP of all authority and role, thus making a mockery of the 74th Constitutional Amendment. This was a little while after someone commented on the dais that capacity building was not a prerequisite for devolution of powers to the Urban Local Bodies: after all, Churchill did not insist on training up India's leaders before granting her independence !
* * *
Many states and cities received awards. I felt a little sad that West Bengal didn't get any. I sort of connected with the Mayor of Raipur who said that she was new but would 'snatch' an award next year. ...But can we?
Thursday, December 2, 2010
* * *
I went to the Planning Commission today. I was told that they had not agreed to the diversion of money from UIG to UIDSSMT. This was proposed earlier by the State Govt.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
This was in Bansberia.
I was in course of a day-long tour of inspection of ongoing works under the NGRBA (National Ganga River Basin Authority). We will have a formal review meeting on Monday in Kolkata. Before this, I thought I'll see a few projects myself. I set out with my officers (Mr Chunar De and others) in the morning. Around noon, as I was in the developed riverfront at Bansberia, I spotted a Dolphin. Government of India has recently declared Ganga Dolphin as the National Aquatic Animal. The Ganga Dolphin is greatly under threat from extinction. I quote below some relevant information (the link follows):
In India, the Ganges River Dolphin is threatened by river water pollution and
siltation, accidental entanglement in fishing nets, and poaching for their oil. In
addition, alterations to the rivers in the form of barrages and dams are separating
Just as the Tiger represents the health of the forest, just as the Snow Leopard
represents the health of the mountainous regions, and the Cheetah, the health of
grasslands, the presence of the Dolphin in a river system signals its good health and
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Secretary (MA) Andhra Pradesh stated that South Africa and Australia had done great work in controlling street vendors. I supported his suggestion to GoI that a study tour with representatives from states may be organised to these countries.
Joint Secretary GoI MoHUPA Mr Singh requested that like Rajasthan and few other states, others may also frame a State Policy on Habitat and Housing. I think I'll initiate a note soon.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
We are scheduled to meet again on Friday.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
A detailed draft was presented by the planners. I remarked that this should conform to KMC Act, Municipal Act, NHAI Act, KoPT Act etc which may have overlapping jurisdictions. But we all agreed that visula pollution should be contained in a fair manner.
It was gratifying to note that a beginning has been made.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
The visit sponsored by the World Bank was very useful. I was amazed how a city-country only 700 sq km (max 43 km one way) can develop so well. In course of our interaction with their agencies, I saw in photos and presentations how things were just as bad as in India in the 70s - Singapore was independent in 1965 - and it is amazing to see how they are now. My last fortnight's memory of Boston / New York is almost merging with that of Singapore.
What are the take-aways from this visit? To my mind, it is this: there is no short cut, but if there is a will to undertake a longish journey, then we can too.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
At 6 pm, met Joint Secretay. Took long to convince him to take a look at our proposal of augmenting funds to UIDSSMT. Let's wait further
Monday, November 1, 2010
PM extended the meeting by about half an hour to allow the non-official members to have their say.
This was my first face to face meeting with PM. I, however, did not speak.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
-Harvard Business School's Defifinition in "leadership for the 21st Century", Harvard, USA 17-22 Oct 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
(1) Mastering Negotiation: Building Agreement across Boundaries (10-15 Oct 2010)
(2) Leadership for the 21st Century; Chaos, Conflict (17-22 Oct 2010)
Along with me, 3 others have also been nominated including Vandana Krishna, my batch-mate in Maharashtra.
There are now the innumerable procedures of Visa, ticketing, state govt clearance, MEA political clearance etc.
* * *
Deepak has been helping me a lot. Alapan also helped me. So did Atanu Palodhi. Thanks to all of you. I hope I am able to make it. I would dearly wish so.
Yesterday, I got myself photographed for visa: since application is done on-line, I didn't take any print-out but took the photo in my pen-drive. Here it is:
Friday, October 1, 2010
* * *
The IAS Association gave farewell to outgoing Chief Secretary. I joined the contributory lunch at the Palladium.
* * *
I got this telephonic information yesterday afternoon from the Director DoPT, GoI about a possible 2-week training at Harvard University from 10th October. My office kept in touch with them today - but no communication was received till evening.
* * *
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
This was my first face-to-face meeting with him.
* * *
Went to Election Commission. My name, along with others, has been recommended to UNDP Delhi as a Voter Registration (IT) expert for supporting Nigeria's Independent Election Commission by the Election Commission of India. Let us see now how it proceeds.
* * *
Met Mr Dilip Chenoy, MD NSDC at the Coffee Shop in Le Meridien, Delhi. Had a fruitful discussion with him and Prabhat over lunch. This was about my Skill Development Institute proposal.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The evening before, I joined Ms Dhingra and the GoI team at dinner at ITC (Pan asia). Food was very good.
Yesterday evening, Star Ananda took a "byte" our decision to waive off fees for unemployed youths to use residential land at Salt Lake for non-residential purposes. Today's papers also carried a story quoting the minister.
Today evening we had an interaction with Louis Berger group on their study "Designing Green Urban Spaces for West Bengal". DFID was also there.
(Posted at Kolkata Airport)
Monday, September 27, 2010
We compared the Bangladesh electoral system with Indian one.We talked of electoral reforms. We talked of ways in which role of money and muscle power could be reduced during elections.
..I was back to my old days !
Here is the link:
* * *
On Sunday I completed the article "Vote jantra janar adhikar" (Right to know the Voting Machine). I sent it to my friend Dipakbabu who'll publish it in his new tabloid.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
* * *
Yesterday we had this meeting on EM By Pass land. Chief Secretary Chaired. Pr Secretary Land. RRR and me were there. Decision was postponed.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
1. I got the Government's approval for the Implementation structure of NGRBA. There will be a Core Committee headed by Minister of UD, a State Unit Headed by me and a full time Project Director and a set of Implementing Agencies such as a 51:49 JVCo (to be formed) and others such as KMC etc
2. I got a letter from Govt of India stating that I, along with other States' Secretaries, may have to go to Singapore for a couple of days in third week of October 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
But that will need a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) first.
* * *
I found that my French has been growing increasingly rusty. I gave up trying it with Monsiuer Martinez after a while!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Yesterday we even reduced this fee.
For non-profit making institutions, there will be a waiver of 50%. For unemployed youths there will be a full 100% waiver: they only have to pay an application fee of Rs. 500.
In all cases, there will be a rebate of 10% if existing users pay up by December 31, 2010.
The link is at:
Sunday, September 19, 2010
I am hopeful of a solution.
Here are two links to Anandabazar and Bartaman that reported on this:
* * *
Yesterday I also spoke at a seminar on Urban Design at Town Hall, in the morning, before going to the Salt Lake meeting. I hope to uplink the transcript on the web and provide a link.*
Yesterday evening,I had a detailed discussion with the CEO Of Saffron Consulting Firm, Avik Chattpoadhaya, and had an engaging discussion on branding West Bengal
* The link is:
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I also handed over copies to Sm Sudha Krishna (JS & FA MoUD), Govind Mohan (JS DEA), L.P.Sonkar (Advisor,Planning Commission) and left copies for others in MoUD/DEA/MoEF.
* * *
Met Jairam Ramesh, UnMoS MoEF again at his office at Delhi while I accompanied Asoke Bhattacharya, MIC UD WB. I mentioned to him that India Today had observed on his "homespun khadi whiter than the orchids of Niyamgiri" !
* * *
After a long time, went to Nirvachan Sadan. Felt like was in home territory again ! I met DG IEC Mr Akshay Raut who'd rung me in the morning. It seems they might forward my name for a UN assignment at Nigeria for 3 months as an election expert. Will be a great thing if it matures.
The meeting took place in Writers' Buildings, in the office chamber of Minister of Urban Development. Minister announced that there would be a survey of street vendors but that all would ensure that no additional vendors occupied the streets to be counted.
* * *
Before that I attended the first meeting of the committee on State Statistical Bureau. I seems that (finally) the govt of India would give support for setting up dedicated statistical units in the states. A Consultant who seemed to be in love with his own voice wanted to embark on a very long lecture on the reliability of statistical data. I intervened and made my quick points (use PMU consultants and share data) and excused myself.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Yesterday evening itself I discussed the matter with Executive Officer of Bidhannagar Municipality and Kolkata Metro Engineers. Our Land Manager indicated few possible locations where the settlers of Dattabad could be shifted. I hope to have the meeting on Saturday, after I come back from Delhi on Friday, if it is suitable to Chairman of Bidhannagar Municipality. Executive Officer will let me know through SMS.
* * *
Yesterday, the PPP Sub-Group's Report was printed and spiral bounded and handed over to me in 15 copies. BUIDL helped me in this. Thanks Chandana. I'll carry the copies for MoUD, DEA and Planning Commission to Delhi today.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
* * *
I met Mr Prasoon Mukhejee in the meeting. He is the chief promoter. Away from the formal meeting, I was quite awed by his rags to riches life story. I told him that he could write a bestseller from his life story !
* * *
I saw yesterday how Minister UD helped a poor person from Siliguri. The person'd lost a family member and had to transport the dead body in a coffin from Kolkata to Siliguri. He even asked KMDA to give Rs. 10,000 to him as personal loan to enable him to buy coffin etc
Sunday, September 12, 2010
After CM left, I told that I'd just seen how in Andhra Pradesh and 10 other states free ambulance services (dial 108) were introduced: the Ambulance would respond to any call on 108 within an average of 22 minutes or so. We were informed that the Health Department was trying for a dial 102 system, which would be free only to BPL and SC/ST families. October 2010 would be a starting date.
Next Friday there will be a focussed meeting on Urban Health Mission project. This will be chaired by Health Minister. We've been invited to participate.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Saturday, September 4, 2010
How this is done? It uses state-of-the art technology. Lighting lux levels are controlled by a microprocessor based on the time of the night. Its light intensity can be programmed to adjust itself according to the traffic pattern in the street. Switching on and off is done automatically as per in-built database of sunrise and sunset times of the city.
Further details about the Vijaywada project is available at
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
I, on my part, highlighted 6 issues: (1) Solid Waste Management should also be looked into as some municipalities are dumping solid waste to the river (2) Funds for O&M (Operation & Maintenance) of capital structures should be provided in the plan as municipalities don't have necessary funds for this (3) Along with Civil Society, Panchayats and Municipalities should also be involved (4) Economic aspects of people staying at the banks or dependent on the river may be taken into account (5) School syllabus of EvS should contain a component of Clean Ganga and (6) the issue of water sharing with Bangladesh in lean season may be revisited.
* * *
Mr Rajiv Gauba was there throughout (except last 40 minutes). Minister Mr Jairam Ramesh was there till lunchtime. I told him that the recent India Today story was quite flattering to him. He appeared happy and said that West Bengal was doing a good job too !
Thursday, August 26, 2010
This led me to think of a recent parliament question on this. It asked why authorities allowed unauthorised constructions to come up in the first place.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
So we are going to recommend setting up of Regulatory Commissions in the water sector too.
(-Posted at Delhi Banga Bhavan)
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
I set a target that it should be completed before November 2010.
I had an interesting discussion on whether vertical pumps or horizontal pumps were better. Technical opinion is sharply divided on this, I found. I'll try and get the opinion of the experts in Delhi on Monday when I'll be there on the 23rd.
Friday, August 20, 2010
* * *
I went to meet the Commissioner of Police Gautam Mohan Chakraborty at Lalbazar yesterday. OSD KIT was also with me. We requested CP to spare a few flats of KIT rented out to KP at Jhorobasti near Ultadanga so that slum improvement works could be done - for which 45 families had to be shifted. CP was very positive and understanding. We decided that KIT and Estate Officer of KP would jointly work out whatever was feasible... The slum improvement would be done under the BSUP (Basic Services for the Urban Poor) component of JnNRUM.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I stated that in Kolkata, a large amount of water is wasted during transmission. I said that the water supply system needed technology, resources and management inputs to reach a high standard of Tokyo Waterworks.
I would wish that Kolkata will be a partner with Tokyo in the field of water supply.
Let's wait and see !
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
* * *
This week's India Today carries an article called "The Odd Couple: The State Learns to Love the Private Sector". I read it with interest as it is directly relevant to the paper that we are preparing. It has a nice, if simplistic, way of defining PPP Projects:
"... Loosely defined, it means a delivery model where the assets belong to the government and the services are provided by the private sector... "
* * *
Last Saturday, I had a meeting with Prof Biswanath Chakrabarty of Rabindra Bharati University. We discussed about the possibility of jointly writing a book on "Urbanism in India". I also wanted to do papers on (i) Electronic Voting in India and (ii) Role of Political Continuity in Urban Development. Somnath De of CEO's office has already lent me the book "How India Votes" and I've started thinking. I also recalled my earlier paper at http://desicritics.org/2008/08/03/142923.php
Friday, August 13, 2010
Thanks Ajanta and Times of India
Thursday, August 12, 2010
This is in connection with 'ZEST'
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
KMDA had proposed that 26% of the flats constructed by it would be reserved for minority communities like Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsees etc. It had also published a brochure. The matter was taken to Court. It was contested that such type of reservation was not contemplated in the Constitution.
The clause was deleted subsequently and the Court was informed. The Court observed as follows:
"We make it clear that the authorities can only carve out the reservation which is provided under the Constitution, such as, for socially and economically weaker section of the Society bereft of religions".
(WP No. 7445(W) of 2010)
Monday, August 9, 2010
* * *
CEO HDA met me at my office. I was told that Ms. Aditi Dass of Climate Group had been to Haldia last Friday to talk about LED streetlights. Despite the higher initial cost, I think it needs to be taken forward.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
I was invited at the Bose Institute, Kolkata yesterday. The book "Emerging Science and Culture: Connecting People" (edited by Prof S.C.Roy) was released as a Platinum Jubilee Commemorative Volume of the Indian Science News Association. The first article titled "Energy Security: Role of Science and Technology" is by Shri M.K.Narayanan, Governor of West Bengal. It also contains an article called "Thermal Power Generation in West Bengal" by me.
I was persuaded to write the article by my friend Dr Barun Chatterjee of the Bose Institute when I was MD, WBPDCL. Yesterday, the book launch was a sort of re-union of our Presidency batch with Barun, Swapan, Rajat, Somnath and Sarbarish - (I met Sarbarish after 27 years, after we did our post MSc from the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics). The then Director of Saha Institute, Dr Manoj Pal, was also present with us in the panel discussion yesterday and he has also contributed an article.
* * *
As promised in my earlier post "The Light", I give below the link to the video in the You Tube:
(Thanks, Atanu, for helping me upload the video).
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Saraswati explained that he'd published a story on a documentary video film by WBPDCL (West Bengal Power Development Corporation) called "The Light". It was a project that I'd initiated when I was in WBPDCL. I was happy to know that the docu-film was finally published. I decided to buy a copy of the newspaer Sokalbela.
I found Sokalbela quite well-printed and neat. Santanu's story had the heading "Tathyachitrer madhyamey mon joi korte udyogi PDCL". The story referred to my efforts in creating a docu-film around Anandababu when I was Chief Electoral Officer and also my initiative of flagging off the present docu-film.
Ashim of PR Wing of WBPDCL gave me a copy of the DVD. I wish to upload it in the You Tube today.
Thanks Ashim and Santanu :)
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
(a) Advised our Planners to draft a notification under T & CP Act / Rules (T&CP=Town and Country Planning) that will make it compulsory for any new residential township to dedicate 25% of the housing for the EWS/ LIG
(b) Requested Housing Department to consider amending the Promoter's Act so that all developers dedicate 25% for EWS/LIG.
(c) Advised a probable investor who had come to meet me to know the rules for setting up townships under the T&CP Act to earmark 25% housing units for the EWS/LIG and also emphasised on the need to adopt green & environment friendly techniques (I was thinking of ZEST)
Times of India has continued its "Clean Kolkata Campaign" even today (Great). I spoke to the Project Director SWM for thinking of some citizen-centric clean initiative in Hoogly.
He will revert to me shortly.
Monday, August 2, 2010
One of the areas in which we discussed a lot was the manner in which at least 25% of developed land in housing projects could be earmarked for the urban poor. We mentioned that in West Bengal, for the public sector or joint venture housing projects, 25% of apartments/ flats were being earmarked for the urban poor in the EWS (Economically Weaker Section) / LIG (Lower Income Group). However, to make it mandatory for the private developers as well, it is necessary to have a law. We requested Crisil to consider making a recommendation that a model law may be enacted by the Central Government.
* * *
I liked the Times of India (Kolkata Edition) campaign on "Clean Kolkata" started today. The central idea is that besides the KMC, citizens also have a role in it. I posted the link in my facebook wall this morning and already I'm having a few comments and 'like's.
I've asked the Executive Engineer of our Department to consider installing energy efficient LED outdoor lamps in the housing estates of my department. Ms Aditi Dass of Climate Change has agreed to help. She's coming to Kolkata on 5th Aug and may look at this.
Friday, July 30, 2010
This was one of the decisions reached in the roundtable conference that we had in Delhi. Representatives of Planning Commission, Ministry of Finance (Department of Economic Affairs), Municipal Commission and State Govt met today morning at Nirman Bhavan. I am the convenor of the group.
The best part was that though all Planning Commission, DEA and UD are all located in Delhi and all are working in the field of PPP - there is little synergy among them. Our meeting achieved a rare co-ordination. I hope to sustain it.
* * *
Yesterday, I met Mr Lohia, JS UD and we talked at length about a new concept of having a smart card that can be used in all public transport such as buses, metros, local trains, parking fees etc. More of this later when the designated agency comes to Kolkata to give a presentation.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I learnt that General Managers of Metro & Eastern Railways were also directors but were not attending any meeting since May 2009. This was presumably because the railways wanted East West Metro also while the UD Ministry wanted to retain that as in Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad.
* * *
In the UD Ministry, on way to the Board meeting, I bumped into Shri Saugata Roy, MoS,UD. I saw him for the first time as a sitting Minister, though I knew him well as an MLA and MP candidate from my CEO days. I shared tea and coffee in his room, which is quite large and well furnished. I also met Rajesh Sinha, his PS, who had worked briefly with me in Burdwan when I wasDM there.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
A reference was made by the Union Minister of one activist-member protesting a project in Uttakhand. The link to a Hindu story that came up is as follows:
* * *
I met the Union Minister Mr Jairam Ramesh face to face yesterday and again today. He is one of the few ministers that I've come across who uses laptop on his office table himself. I quite admired him on the whole.
(Posted at Delhi Airport using HP Mini & Tata Photon+)
Thursday, July 22, 2010
The meeting was about using some JnNRUM funds earmarked for larger cities for the smaller ones. (The issue is more complex than it appears !)
The room was beautiful: huge (size of a tennis court), with wooden floors and bright concealed warm yellow lights. Tastefully decorated, with photos of some great persons on the walls. Book shelf, sofas and a meeting table for 15 or so. He offered us some tea, and separately called for biscuits too.
Shri Mukherjee was wearing a grey banddhgala coat. He talked to the Minister in Bengali but to me in English. But I thought, he needed to take a break and get some rest: he looked a bit tired and weary to me.
* * *
Ms Aditi Dass of Climate Change has sent me photos of an LED street light. This is after she read my last blog post. Here is the picture:
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I was given this link today in an email by Ms Aditi Dass of the Climate Group who is associated with the KMC's LED Project. I also got lots of background material in the email (except any picture of how the street LEDs look!) This was a result of my meeting with Mr Nabarun Sarkar of KMC last week.
I've just written a D.O. letter to CEO, Haldia Development Authority, advising him to take this forward.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
But I was not prepared for what my friend Avik Chattopadhyay sent me from Brazil:
Thanks, Avik for the information. I'll circulate this.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Few days ago, there were a few queries from the Development and Planning Department about land status etc. Since we have land at Kalyani, this wouldn't be an issue, I commented. I also spoke to the Secretary of the Department to expedite matters.
It is a long climb: but I believe in taking one step up at a time.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
I also got a document from WBREDA explaining what energy efficient ideas are being already implemented in New Town, Salt Lake; I've to send it to BNL shortly.
Friday, July 9, 2010
It was great meeting the ECs, DEC, DG and old friends from office and media.
I was a bit nostalgic thinking of the efforts we'd put in to get old and rare photos, many of which were displayed in the official exhibition in Kolkata. In particular, I remembered how Debabrata Thakur helped me go to Anandabazar's photo library where I met the amazing librarian who brought out a host of rare and unbelievable collection of historical photographs connected with Bengal elections...It was gratifying to see "courtesy: Anandabazar" in many photographs on display. Thanks, again, Debuda.
I'll try to post here (later) Suchitra Sen's photo that drew the largest applause: she was photographed while she was being photographed for her voter-ID
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I spoke about the need of long term planning, among other things. I told that the McKenzie Report stated that a complete renewal of towns was possible within 10 years, as experience in South Africa (think of World Cup !), China and Russia showed. I said that the present term of 5 years could thus take forward all towns to the half-way mark if there was vision, planning, convergence and will.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I mentioned that we should design speciality cities. For example, the McKenzie report released recently talks about speciality cities where investments have been substantial. In the all India list, there was mention of Asansol (Mining Speciality), Haldia (Port) and Siliguri (Tourism). I said that Kalyani didn't succeed well because there was no specialty focus -or branding, if you will- and was also quite far away from Kolkata. An article has commented recently that people don't like to commute more than one hour a day and surely Kalyani isn't that close.
I also mentioned that there should be a focus on environment, energy efficiency and global warming issues.
I hope a good report will come out eventually
Sunday, July 4, 2010
The main trouble is that the awareness programme is lagging behind the engineering plan. Thus Solid Waste separation has lost significance since they are dumped together in the traditional manner.
I advised the facilitators to make a convergence with BSUP programme since our department is also engaged in building new houses for slum dwellers in each of these municipal towns under BSUP (Basic Services for the Urban Poor). I suggested that they may try propagating other useful messages that will contribute to a clean environment. Tracking mass events like picnics, weddings etc and creating awareness on proper disposal of wastes would be a good idea.
I told the engineering wing to speed up work.
(Picture above is that of the volunteer-facilitators in a meeting at Serampore. Taken on my E63 mobile)
Saturday, July 3, 2010
I, however, had a feeling that these institutions are caught in a time warp: situation is as was three or four decades ago. Even the inmates are often in the same place for ten or more years. There is a need for maintenance too.
I think we need to modernise. We need to infuse life. We need to confine our loyalty to the core group of young job workers.
I've asked KIT's architect to create a modern environment. I've asked the Chief Engineer to do a proper repair. I've asked the Estate Manager to organise cultural events. I've asked OSD,KIT to make the hostels lively and make new rules.
The hostels are at Bagbazar and Christopher Lane (in Entally area). The picture above is the entrance to the Baghbazar Working Women's Hostel
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Olins has sent me an email:
I very much enjoyed meeting you the other evening during the event on the branding. I hope we will have an opportunity of keeping in touch.
(Seen at left is a photo in yesterday's Anandabazar. From Left to Right: Victor Banerjee, Harsh Neotia, Wally Olins and me)
Monday, June 28, 2010
It is therefore that the West Bengal Town and Country Plan Act was enacted in 1979. Under the Act, Planning Authorities can make LUDCP (Land Use Development and Control Plan) and developers and others must adhere to it. But the LUDCPs are often out of date and do not take into account newly urbanising areas. Consequently, investment on urban infrastructure is often ad hoc and chaotic.
To form a repository of data, knowledge and vision for the state as a whole, we have recently decided that a State Directorate of Urban Planning will be set up in due course.
A core group has been formed.
I hope a blueprint will be ready shortly.
Friday, June 25, 2010
After his 40-minute presentation (great), I joined him as a panelist along with Ram Ray, Victor Banerjee and Rita Bhimani.
Most questions were about how to brand Bengal or Kolkata.
There was no direct answer from him, but he made many useful comments. Some are:
(a) There has to be a synergy, a demand, an enthusiasm - as happened in Spain
(b) The 'product'must be good too.
(c) Broad generalisations don't work (no 'land of contrast' , for example, as this could apply to many countries as well)
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I'd earlier commented on "ZEST"(Zero Energy Satellite Town) in this blog, explaining how interested I was.
There are many steps to go: but the first one has been traversed.
I also spoke to MD, WBREDA today and requested him to give me details of renewable energy projects undertaken in Salt Lake & New Town, so that I can justify our claim for the pilot project even further. Mr Gon Chowdhury has agreed to help.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
It was learnt that SJDA (Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority) had already done so in a public ceremony earlier this month and it drew very positive response.
We set ourselves a target of October 2010 for this.
Monday, June 21, 2010
After the meeting with Election Commission in Delhi, I rushed (..had to skip lunch !..) to attend the Board meeting of KMRC. I joined as the new Director of the Board. Mr Ardhendu Sen, Chief Secretary, also joined the KMRC Board today.
We saw few presentations on progress. We discussed few problems that needed attention. I was put in two-three Directors' Committee.
It was a great feeling being a part of the Team that will present Kokata its East West Metro by 2014.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
The meeting will be on controlling expenditure in elections. I had, when I was Chief Electoral Officer, in March this year submitted a paper to the Commission analysing the problem and outlining the way forward - both in the short term and in the medium term.I think the invitation to attend has something to do with that but the Election Commission officer who reminded me on telephone to attend and tell me that the full Commission would address the meeting didn't mention anything about it.
I am indeed quite curious to see how the meeting unfolds tomorrow at 11 am.
(At Kolkata Airport, using HP Mini & Tata Photon)
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I had a discussion yesterday on municipal solid waste management strategy.
I was moved by stories of daily plight of ragpickers in the chain of waste disposal system in the city that we live in. The ragpickers, who serve as human sorting agents of our garbage, are mostly children. We rob them of their childhood, of a human existence. They have no education, no health back-up. Disease, dog-bites, stinking filth, crumbling heaps of garbage on top are daily occurrences. But most devastating is that they are not free: they are virtually bonded labourers of middlemen-contractors. Reminded me somehow of 'Slumdog Millionaire'.
A Waste Disposal Strategy must take rehabilitation of ragpickers into account.
(Picture from 'Slumdog Millionaire')
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The beauty of the software is that not only tender notices are available on the web and forms can be downloaded, but bids can also be submitted online from anywhere. Issues like last time/date of bid submission, secure and transparent opening of bids etc are all taken care of through digital signatures and PKI.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I've asked DM, Murshidabad to send me some background material from his district.
I met Erajul yesterday....(photo at right)
Erajul is a construction worker from a remote village in Murshidabad. He is illiterate. He began his life as a labourer and slowly picked up work of a mason. His family lost all its land in the Ganga river bank erosion All his four brothers are in the same trade. . He is idle 4-5 months of the year. Many of his co-villagers are in the same trade and several of them have to go out to distant places outside the state in search of work.
Being illiterate, he has to pay Rs 1,500 to a fellow literate who draws up informal bills on the basis of work done by him. He laments that cost of helper-labourer is rising by the day. He doesn't know how to use mechanical equipment. He depends on an informal community based network for getting new works. He is a freelancer expert mason.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
If we have 'star rating' in electrical appliances, we can have ratings based on water use efficiency in appliances like Washing Machines, jacuzzi showers too.
But most important would be to usher in a mind-set that water must not be wasted or misused
*cf: my earlier blogpost of 17th May 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
(Posted at Delhi Airport, using HP mini & Tata Photon)
Sunday, May 30, 2010
The idea is as follows:
About 10 lakh construction workers will be needed by 2014 to cater to the construction / real estate sector. But the methods of constructions are being mechanised rapidly: one can see around the Kolkata Metro construction and see how caterpillar cranes, bull-dozers and concrete-mixers are being used. But the traditional skill in masonary etc is still in its ancient customs. As a result, more and more skilled workers are coming in to the state from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh etc. A massive social unrest will happen due to job displacements in the traditional construction industry unless we act now.
I have therefore proposed that we can set up an Institute of Construction and Project Management in Salt Lake or Kalyani, somewhat along the lines of the National Academy of Construction in Hyderabad. I'd need financial help though.
I was encouraged to take the matter forward. I hope to take it the Planning Commission through the Development and Planning Department.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
At the WTC meeting yesterday, there was a great presentation on e-Procurement by NIC. How invitation of tenders AND submission of Bids can be done online was presented to all. And it is not a hypothetical model: it is actually being used in the Panchayat & Rural Development Department of our own State Government.
We'll be able to avoid many problems and make the Tender process more transparent and faster if we can also adopt it in our Department and all Development Authorities. Surely, some fine tuning would be required. But that shouldn't be a stumbling block if we want professionalism, transparency and efficiency in our procurements.
I've already spoken to SIO, NIC Mr Das. He has agreed to give a proposal.
* * *
Public perception on public procurement is not very bright. I give the following link in today's Telegraph that makes this point not too subtly: click here
Friday, May 21, 2010
I went to Mirik on Wednesday. I was sad to compare the presnt state with my decade-old memory of the colourful blue waters with tourists thronging the Day Centre.
We had a fruitful meeting. We took a target of doing up the lake before the Pujas, ie Oct this year.
(The picture was taken on my mobile. The dirty water is masked by the reflection of light. -DS)
Monday, May 17, 2010
We had a meeting on the National Ganga River Basin Authority. Environment Department was also there. There was a great presentation on behalf of WBPCB regarding campaign to be done to make people concsious of saving our rivers. I asked them to make a Project Report. So that I can Talk to GOI to take it forward.
(The picture is taken from today's Times of India)-DS
Friday, May 14, 2010
I and Shri A.K.Das, Joint Secretary discussed improvement measures on the floor of the library. I transferred my stand-by desktop computer to the library today. I also sent the numerous reports (usually in a spiral binder, 200-300 pages) to the library.
I asked for a note on actions required. These included (1) newspaper clipping activity (2) new books, especially amended Acts, and periodicals (3) monthly bulletins on New Arrivals (4) creating a warm ambience.
I met Somnath Gharami (picture at right). He would be looking after the revamping. He has a post graduate degree in library science.