In our Board meeting yesterday, we removed certain restrictions on applications in the health sector and added a clause on maximum period set for completion. Suman Chakraborti's article on Times of India is as follows:
The formal advertisement that appeared in some papers is as follows. We will publish the advertisements in Anandabazar and Telegraph tomorrow.
Yesterday the possession of Indira Bhavan was returned back yo the Urban Development Department. Here is a story that had appeared few days ago in Times of India.
We are actively considering few alternative uses. One of these is office cum guest house. But no decision has been taken as yet.
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I recently submitted my resignations from the Boards of five Joint Venture Companies of KMDA where I was either the Chairman or Director. I have cited that I was unable to devote adequate time and attention to the functioning of these JVCs. A part of the unstated reason related to the AMRI incident: you are responsible for anything bad as well if you are on the board.
I requested Hon'ble CM to kindly visit the eco-tourism site on way to airport on the dais yesterday. We were in the foundation stone laying ceremony for Alia University / Haj House at Rajarhat New Town. She agreed and I left the dais a little ahead to receive her.
She seemed to like the ambience but was eager that the main project got started early. She gave the go-ahead for phase 1 of the eco-tourism project after seeing the concept on the pavilion on the spot.
Here are two photos (courtesy: Chandana Roy Chowdhury of BUIDL):
Dr Manmohan Singh spoke at the inaugural session at Vigyan Bhavan that Urban/Town Planning must have a component for the poor. This is the second National Conference that I attended. Did I perceive a lack of enthusiasm? Perhaps because it is the last year of Jnnurm?
Soil testing has started along the Major Arterial Road in Rajarhat New Town for the Garia-Airport Metro Line. The alignment is as follows. For an alternative version and bigger image, see Hidco's site at www. wbhidcoltd.com
We had today the monthly meet on beautification of New Town. This time, it was within the Unitech premises. The campus was great, we had a fruitful meeting and there was a (surprise) sit-down lunch thrown in for all of us.
I was quite interested in the findings of a study by DLF. They wanted to find out why employees go out to eat in unhygienic roadside stalls even though the IT Cos provide canteen facilities.
The finding was quite startling.
Price was not a major factor - food was almost similarly priced. In fact tea is often free - but most people go out to have tea @ Rs 5
Because they want a smoke too ! And smoking is not allowed inside.
.... I suggested that We could build a proper smokers' joint (think of Cafe Coffee Day). All agreed ! Let's see
In the afternoon we had a meeting on Shantiniketan in Minister Firhad Hakim's chamber. Shatabdi Roy, MP & Chairman SSDA and Panchayat Minister were also there.
A Committee with Jogen Chowdhury, Dulal Mukherjee, Supriyo Thakur etc have been formed.
A team of engineers will go to Shantiniketan on 16th Dec
We were to have an inauguration of a Children's Park at New Town Rajarhat today at 2.45pm. But this has been cancelled / postponed in view of the fire in AMRI Dhakuria today where 50 persons may have died.
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Here is a photo appearing in North Bengal Edition of Anandabazar about Tea Park Inauguration in Siliguri yesterday. It has been referred by Avick. Yes Avick, the person to the right of / beside MIC North Bengal (in blue jacket) is me:
Came back from Siliguri today. Moved around the town yesterday afternoon and held meeting with Siliguri Municipal Corporation, SJDA and others including DMs & SPs. Basically, I talked about ensuring some quick gains (repair roadside railings and paint, put in plotted plants from nursery etc) and engage a professional to draw up urban renewal plan.
Here are some reports that appeared today in the North Bengal Editions that I read in the Bagdogra Airport today afternoon:
This was from The Telegraph. The following is from The Statesman:
Influenced by the Town Planning Schemes of Maharashtra-Gujarat, I am thinking of a modified plan where all stakeholders come together in a win-win situation to create planned townships.
I'll hold a brainstorming session on 14th Dec at Hidco. Twelve groups who had informed the govt earlier of their interest in the area earlier known as Brada have been invited. Here is an article in today's Times of India:
I met Transport Secretary yesterday at Writers' Buildings and requested that a helicopter service to Digha may start latest from 13th Jan when our Digha Festival will begin.
B.P.Gopalika, Transport Secretary who was District Election Officer when I was Chief Electoral Officer, informed me that an Expression of Interest was just published to this effect. Here is the clipping that I collected from him (this is from Economic Times):-
I met a delegation of UK India at Minister Firhad Hakim's chamber. We talked of urban regeneration and new towns, new technology and riverfront development. There will be a UK funded 3 month 'scoping study'. Here in an article in today's Bartaman:
We will soon put up several non-residential plots in New Town Rajarhat for bid. We need a designing and creative team to help us design our campaign. There was an advertisement in yesterday's papers. Here is what appeared :
I inspected the site of Rabindra Tirtha Kendra today. There was a Supervisor with whom I talked. There was quite a progress but I told General Manager (E) that more machines may be allocated. Here is a picture with my office in background:
In the morning, I, alongwith GM(E) Mr Arijit Sanyal met Mr Jogen Chowdhury, painter, to seek his advice on whom to contact for Rabindranath's statue. Here is a picture with him at his residence taken today morning:
Yesterday we held a long meeting with the scientific officers of the Science and Technology Department about creating a Geographical Information System for New Town, using satellite data and land & building data bank. The point that I emphasized was that (a) it should be time bound and payment will be milestone based with penalties for delay in a graded manner (for example, if the 3rd milestone was delayed by two weeks, a 2% deduction would be made, a 3% deduction for four week delay and so on) (b)it should integrate mouza plot and hidco plots numbers (c) we should be able to see time series ie how constructions were happening over the years.
They have promised that they will revert with a proposal.
We had a meeting yesterday with Minister of IT regarding land for Infosys and Wipro at 4 Camac Street building. I reconnected with some of the old staff when I was Chief Electoral Officer in 2006 onwards. There were some panchayat representatives and some there was some loudness. Here is a story that appeared in today's Times of India:
Yesterday there was a Regional Review of JnNURM projects by Mr Sudhir Krishna, Secretary, GoI, UD. Besides West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa were there. It seems, West Bengal is doing fairly well.
In the afternoon, Mr Krishna went to HIDCO. Senior officers of CPWD were also there. It seems, the Airport Authorities need some land from CPWD who needs to be compensated for the land so given up. The CPWD has asked for a 5-6 acre plot in Rajarhat New Town for this. Suman Chakrabarti of Times of India spoke to me. Here is his report in today's TOI:
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The Tourism Department held a review meeting on Digha yesterday. I couldn't attend as I was engaged in the Regional Workshop. DSDA & BUIDL attended. Today's Telegraph carries this story:
Just back from China. Went to Beijing and Xiamen. Amazing China experience. Here is a picture in a yatch in the marina at Xiamen. But there was no facebook. There was no blogging allowed. Such restrictions make me value the freedoms we experience daily in India.
I am now in Delhi airport, waiting to board Air China Flight number CA 948 for Beijing. It will leave at 0315 hrs (it is now 12.40 am, 30th Oct). Flight time to Beijing is 5 hr 40 min. Flight will reach Beijing at 11.45 am (China Time).
This is a 7-day workshop and includes a visit to the coastal town of Xiamen. I am going at the nomination of Govt of India and invitation of Govt of China, Ministry of Commerce (all expenses by Govt of China). I will present a paper on the ICZM project being undertaken in Digha. I will also mention of the Digha Beach Festival 13-16 Jan 2012 !
I held a video conference with all DMs yesterday. Chairmen of HQ Municipalities and Development Authorities were also present. The idea was to create a synergy among the ULBs, Development Authorities and District Administration.
There has been few press stories today in The Statesman, The Times of India and The Hindustan Times (search Google). Here is the clipping from today's Hindustan Times:
Today's Anandabazar carries an article on the "Kolkata Eye". I, alongwith others, went to see a possible site on the Howrah bank of Hoogly River, near the place where the Vidyasagar Setu meets the bank.
Close by, there are certain piers that were constructed when the Bridge was being built. These could be a possible site for a River Marina. Here is a picture that I took on my Sony Digital DSC H55:
Can we have a scheme of planned urban development without acquiring land? The Town and Country Planing Act suggests a way forward. I will hold a meeting today at UD Department in the morning to discuss a strategy for areas outside New Town but within its Planning Area. Bartaman today talks of this. Here is a clip:
I have been quoted today in Hindustan Times that the dates of the Digha Beach Festival would be finalised in early November. This is true. It seems the festival may be shifted to January 2012 for various reasons. Watch this space !
Here is the article.
I'd come in contact with Janagraha during my Election Commission days. A few days ago, I met the organisers of an Urban Conference at Mysore at my office at Nagarayan. I said I could send a paper if there was a 'stand-in' speaker. I emailed them today to choose the topic : "Financial Inclusion and the Urban Economy ". I post the following clipping in this context:
Posting this from Delhi Airport. Did the following today :
1. Spoke to, and submitted, a proposal to MNRE (Ministry of Non-Conventional and Renewable Energy) for setting up a demonstration and counselling centre for Green Building Construction at New Town
2. Got a copy of the order by Ministry of Defence allowing beautification of Ganga Riverfront with certain conditions
3. Got a way to revive the old West Bengal Secondary Cities development Project but this will have to be "revived" in a screening committee meeting of DEA, MoF
4. Spoke about proposing two TA grants from World Bank/ DFID Trust Fund for (i) studyng ULC and (ii) changing FAR in New Town
5. Talked about setting up a Inland International Container Terminal near Siliguri, in conjunction with land custom stations and regional connectivity at DEA for taking up in an ADB-led mission
We are receiving few queries on our invitation for setting up of a Trauma Care Centre and a Geriatric Health Care Centre at New Town, Rajarhat and some requests for extending time, which was to expire tomorrow the 18th Oct.
We have just extended it to 31st Oct 2011
We have decided to set up the Financial Hub in New Town Rajarhat in its Action Area-II, in CBD land. We have set apart 25 acres of prime land for this. Here is a story that appared in Times of India today:
In September, we had published an Expression of Interest inviting applications for participating in a creative design competition for local neighbourhood market in Action Area -I. The entries were judged by a panel headed by Shri Partha Das, Principal Consultant, HIDCO. The results have been finalised. The winning competition for one category is as follows:
This is what I'd written in my Sep 14 blog post:
"... In today's Times of India, we have published an advertisement asking for designs from Architects through a competition. There will be two plots and two separate competitions, both are located in Action Area I of New Town..
I have Delhi Haat or Dakshinapan in mind. But local open markets here are very small - about 20 kottahs or so. This is meant for getting daily groceries, vegetable, fish etc : we are not looking at glass facaded shopping malls. We want fresh open friendly neighbourhood market but with a bit of creativity added, a bit of originality.
Hence the competition and call from young and talented architects.Winner will get Rs 50,000 reward for one, and Rs 60,000 for the other..."
During my last visit to Delhi, I paid a visit to a JV Co between Delhi Govt and ILFS IDFC which is monitoring bus movements on Delhi. I saw GIS based bus movement trackers on giant wall screens. Video coverage at junctions adjusts signals to optimise traffic flow. Police can even see number plates of traffic violating offenders and issue "challans" for fines. In one case, it was subsequently discovered that fake number plates were being used by someone when an owner complained on receiving the challan that he couldn't have violated traffic rule on that date as he was away from Delhi with his car!
.. I'd visited the Delhi Hub because I am thinking of having a smart traffic management system for Kolkata. Yesterday, I informed Mr Gopal Ghosh, CEO NKDA to make a project report. Here is an article that appeared in today's Anandabazar:
Most Non Residential plots will be sold through bids in New Town, Rajarhat. Here is a press clipping that appeared on page 1 of Bartaman today. Mr Amal Sarkar had briefly spoken to me on this yesterday evening.
I am in Delhi today to attend national workshop on NIJNNRUM. In the workshop, I said that (i) Development Authorities should have a role assigned to them as an implementor and (ii) there may be capitalisation of O&M costs of 5 years. The meeting was held at Vigyan Bhavan where Mr Kamal Nath and Kum Selja - Union Ministers - and other dignitaries were there.
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I met Mr Tarun Kapoor, JS, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Govt of India. I submitted to him a formnal proposal for according Solar City Status to New Town. We also discussed about use of electric vehicles (Reva) in New Town.
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I met Mr Shinichi Yamanaka, the Chief Representative of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) in India. I talked about help in sourcing technology from Japan for making New Town a smart city. We reviewed the Yokohama meeting too. It seems, a pre-feasibility study will be required first.
Last Saturday, in course of the KMRCL (Kolkata East West Metro) meeting, I discussed with Mr Lohia, Joint Secretary MoUD Govt of India, that I was looking for international state-of-the art traffic-signalling system for New Town. Working from his reference, Gopal Ghosh CEO NKDA and I met today morning Ms. Wong Foong Chung Sindy of Singapore at Hidco. They asked for a due diligence study on the present status of traffic only after which they will be able to comment.
We will take it from there.
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The engineering team of HIDCO, KIT, UD and others saw a presentation by an Italian expert at Hidco about very-quick low-cost housing construction technology. Although many issues were justifiably raised, I think we must continue to look at international trends whenever possible.
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Just reached Delhi. Will go to JICA office to discuss a few things for the benefit of New Town. Let's see how it turns out.
Few days ago, a large group of doctors from US (but from Bengal) met me and said that they want to set up an advanced Geriatric Clinic with regenerative medicine. I was happy to know of the cutting edge technology and wished that it could be used to treat senior citizens of Eastern India.
- Police has been telling me that a Trauma Ambulance is necessary in view of frequent accidents in New Town.
We are thus thinking of inviting offers to set up these health care facilities in Rajarhat New Town. Here is an article that appeared in today's Times of India:
My good friend Dr Subir Roy of e-Governance Mission Team rang me last Thursday and deputed a team that showed us how a tailor-made-for-bengal-secrtariat-babus software can be used to keep track of file movements within the department. It was a non-sophisticated simple system, but a system that fits very well into the existing procedures. Me and my officers were immediately enthusiastic - no long term SRSs, no presentations, no high-flying software codes - all that is needed is a LAN and a 2 hour training for the PAs and assistants.
I will introduce it in UD soon - as soon as our LAN is ready.
I think it will make government business speedier.
By the way, the software is free.
I attended the Board meeting of the Kolkata East West Metro under the Chairmanship of new Govt of India Secretary Dr Sudhir Krishna. Executive Director of Railway Board Mr Rajib Chowdhury was also there. Among other things it was decided that the shares of EW Metro would be given over to the Railway Ministry. But till all the formalities are completed, the project work would go on as per schedule.
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About the Garia-Airport Metro link that will pass through New Town, HIDCO, there is an article in today's Times of India. Here is it:
A 3-member team from ADB met me yesterday. They talked about transport linkage in north Bengal to facilitate regional co-operation among Nepal, Bhutan, India and Bangladesh. I recalled my old association with ADB when I was chosen to deal with North-South Development Corridor from Raichak to Siliguri.
Yesterday, I highlighted the significance of Look East Policy, opening of Nathu-la pass and the importance of setting up an indoor International Container Terminal with Railway Freight Corridor.
We also held the second meeting of the Kolkata Beautification Committee of which I am the co-ordinator. Many agencies including HIDCO, Urban Forestry etc showed photographs of their achievements. KMC gave a presentation. Next meeting will be held on 21st Oct.
KMC hosted a good lunch too!
Here is a press report in today's Telegraph:
Yesterday's Pratidin carried a small report on Mr Heald's meeting with me. Here is a report: