Monday, April 30, 2012

"Upmarket Tourism for Digha"

Ayan Pramanik of Business Line met me last Friday at Hidco. We talked of many things. Today I bought a copy of the paper near Writers' Buildings. There were two meetings (i) one with Minister Manish Gupta regarding PPP in Tourism matters and (ii) with Ministers Firhad Hakim and Partha Chatterjee regarding IT.
Here is the clipping of Ayan's article appearing in today's Business Line:

Digha Gate

In Haldia, a beautiful Gateway has been designed by HDA (Haldia Development Authority). Construction has started. (I'll put a photo here as soon as I can get my hands on it).

In Digha too, we want to make a great Gate. We are inviting offers. Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Extending deadlines for Pragati Utsav (15-30 May)

Like other departments, we are also preparing to participate in the Pragati Fair at Milan Mela Ground (opposite Science City) on 15-30 May 2012.
Artist's impression of UD-MA Stall at Pragati Utsav

Along with KMDA. KMC etc, HIDCO/NKDA and DSDA will have their own corners within the 5,400 sq ft hanger allotted to Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Departments jointly. I held a co-ordination meeting with all Development Authorities and Hidco/Nkda/Dsda last Thursday. Minister Firhad Hakim addressed the meeting and outlined the strategy. After he left, I collected the samples brought over by the Development Authorities and designated Atanu Palodhi, Joint Secretary, as the nodal officer.

I requisitioned the services of a professional photographer (Kajal Datta) and asked him to take photos at Digha of the site of proposed Ayurvedic Spa and that of multi-faceted tourism site being promoted by DSDA.

I wish to make use of the exhibition stalls at the Pragati Utsav to spread awareness about the following Expressions of Interest:
(1) Ayurvedic Spa & Health Club on 3.24 acres on Digha Beach
(2) Multi-faceted tourism projects including 3 star hotel, amusement park and under-sea water hub on 24 acres in Digha dunes
(3) Renting out floor space in Finance Centre, New Town
(4) Plots in International Financial Hub
(5) Non-residential Plots for social sectors in New Town
(6) Eco-resort in eco-park, New Town
EOIs for few are yet to be published: I hope to do so by 14th May. For some, I am extending the last date till 31st May or beyond so as to harness the attention of people at the Pragati Utsav.
One such date extension appeared in today's Times of India. Here it is:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Specialist Landscapers for New Town, Rajarhat

The master plan for Eco Park has been done by ILFS through an expert Delhi-based landscape architect. The Rabindra Tirtha design was done by Hidco's in-house architect group and DCL. Convention Centre is being designed by Dulal Mukherjee. Two Markets in Action Area-I is designed by two experts selected through a competition. Nazrul Bhavan at Salt Lake is also being designed by an Architect group selected through a competitive manner. Design bid for a Bhagat Singh Bhavan has just been invited. Design bids for a Gate for Digha is due to be invited within a couple of days.
  However, general landscaping of medians, road rotaries, road flanks etc are developed mostly through local skills. Engineers and forest officials have contributed. Now, I thought, that inputs from few specialists are required.
  Earlier, Hidco had advertised for appointment of landscape-architects on contract. But there weren't too many applicants and the interview panel did not recommend any applicant even from those who had applied. So, now we have just invited agencies to implement landscape concepts on the ground. Three stretches have been identified. The advertisements have appeared in a few newspapers today. Here is a clipping from Times of India:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rabindra Week in New Town

At New Town, we will celebrate Rabindra Week from 1st to 7th May like rest of the state. NKDA held a meeting yesterday with local residents for organising competitions and participation. A final ceremony will be held on 7th May where winners will also perform.

We will decorate few buses of Hidco and run them in this week. A report appeared few days ago in Khabar 365. Here is the clipping:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Property Tax in New Town

A Bill is likely to be introduced in the next session of the Assembly to impose property tax in New Town. Here is a clipping from today's Bartaman:
The report also mentions aboutthe  green auto taxi experiment

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

IRCTC Canteen in Hidco Bhavan

Yesterday I cut the ribbon to our new canteen at Hidco Bhavan. It is run by IRCTC. Outsiders can come and have food too. It was quite necessary as there is hardly any eating place nearby. Indeed, in a recent land auction, a restaurant had got a great response.
GM IRCTC offered us complementary coffee and snacks to all Hidco officials. I thanked IRCTC and lauded the efforts of Krishnendu Basak, GM(A), Kalyan Sen OSD and GM-I N Sil.
* * *
Here is a story that appeared in 365 Din few days ago. The pre-bid meeting will be held next Friday (27th Ap) in Kolkata:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Carbon Friendly Transport in New Town?

Today afternoon I rode an 8-seater electric three wheeler. I'd written to Malay De, my batch-mate and Principal Secretary of Non-Conventional Energy Sources, some time back that electric golf-cart type transport was needed in the New Town that was aspiring to be a Carbon-friendly town. The matter came up in the Residents' Meet held on 19th April too when some citizens of New Town said that connectivity from bus stops in Major Arterial Road to Action Area II & III was inconvenient through the auto-rickshaws, which often charged exorbitant amounts.
Today, Director WBREDA Mr Sushanta Bhattacharjee came over to Hidco for a discussion with a battery powered 3 wheeler. I, Dilip Baxi, Mr Bhattacharya and PMU Engineer took a spin on this:
It was 5 o' clock in the afternoon. In the picture, I am sitting beside the driver, in front of Hidco Bhavan. The sound of the running vehicle was not unlike an EMU local train when it accelerates.
..I requested the Director, WBREDA to run a few such electric 3-wheelers from Salt Lake Sector 5 to Financial Hub / Unitech. He said he'd think about it.
Let's see.

7th May 2012

Here is a clipping from today's (7.5.12) Times of India:

I have sent two SMS today morning, one to Director WBREDA and the other to Principal Secretary, Power Department.

Hindu Business Line

Got the paper at Howrah Station yesterday, on my way to Digha. Here is the clipping I was looking for:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

(1) JnNURM -I extended for 2 years (2) Website Updation

Yesterday I got copy of letter no K-14012/04/2012-NURM dated 10th April 2012 from MoUD, Govt of India stating that schemes UIG under JnNURM, if sanctioned before March 2012, is granted an extension of 2 years (ie till 2012-13) for completion.
We were pressing for it since some time, and nnow we know that we will get a breather. The operative part is as follows: "It has been decided to extend Mission period by two years up to 2013-14 for completion of projects sanctioned till March 2012 and reforms under UIG including procurement of buses sanctioned under the Economic Stimulus, and UIDSSMT of JnNURM".
In West Bengal, we have 71 sanctioned projects under UIG of which 13 were sanctioned only a few months ago. So this extra time is a big relief.
* * *
In yesterday's meeting by CM, emphasis was laid, inter alia, on disseminating updated information through departmental web sites. A target date of 1st May was set. I am holding a meeting at 2.30pm today on this. To convene the meeting I SMSed the departmental officers and sent a tweet too on my way back from town hall. I was pleasantly surprised to see that today's Telegraph had noticed the tweet:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ayurvedic Health Club in Digha

We have identified a beautiful spot of more than 3 acres virtually on the Digha beach where one can set up an eco-friendly health club - where no cement, concrete or even steel can be used to set up the cottages etc. We have in mind something like the following (taken from the web; just to show that it can be done):

An Expression of Interest has appeared in papers today (see Time of India, for example):

Friday, April 13, 2012

Incredible Digha !

In Banga Bhavan, last Tuesday, I picked up a leaflet on Digha from the new Tourism Counter at the reception.It was published by West Bengal Tourism Department. I was quite amused to find inside that Chandaneswar was also listed along with Mandarmoni etc as places to visit. Chandaneswar, incidentally, is in Orissa - though only a few kilometres away from the Bengal Border.
Here is the brochure:
I took a cue from this yesterday evening. It was nearing 9 pm at Ud Department. Soumen (EO DSDA), Sudip & Chandana (ILFS) and I were discussing about the possible end points of the ropeway alignment. I was initially thinking of Bengal-Orissa Border (Udaipur Beach) and Digha Mohana via Digha Railway Station and Old Digha. But then, it occurred that Chandaneswar could be also brought into the alignment if the PPP partner wished.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bhagat Singh Bhavan

Rabindra Tirtha at New Town is in an advanced stage of completion but fulfilment of the target date is in doubt due to last week's storm / rains.
Architectural design of Conference Bhavan in New Town has started.
Global Bid Document preparation of Twin Towers in New Town has started.
Architectural design of Nazrul Academy** in Salt Lake has started.
And today, Expression of Interest has been invited for a Bhagat Singh Bhavan at New Town. Here is a clipping from today's Papers:

** See today's ToI at:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kalyani Lottery on 21st April

Here is an advertisement that appeared in today's Sakalbela:
In case you have difficulty in reading, here are the facts:
21.4.2012, Nazrul Mancha Rabindra Sarobar, 11am. Proof of application and identity required for access to venue.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Mr Ranjan Bandyopadhyay of Anandabazar spoke to me shortly after my presentation to the SLBC last Thursday. Here is a clipping that appears in today's Anandabazar:
The picture looks impressive !

Friday, April 6, 2012

Presentation in SLBC on Financial Hub

I made a presentation on the Financial Hub to the State Level Bankers' Committee yesterday. This took place in the UBI Headquarters, in BBD Bag. Chairman UBI & Chairman SLBC presided. CGM Nabard, AGM RBI, AGM SBI and most other banks were present. Basically I explained the government's position and appealed to all to participate in the International Financial Hub.
Based on the feedback (as also in the pre-bid meeting held the day before), we took the following decisions:
(1) Public Sector Banks argued that more time was necessary for them to take all clearances. We agreed to extend the date till 15th May. This has been published in today's newspapers like Times of India.
(2) To prevent monopolisation, we agreed to insert a condition that no one can get more than one plot. A methodology has also been worked out, taking the suggestion of the bankers.
(3) To prevent frivolous applications, all applications would have to be accompanied by an earnest money. As suggested by insurance companies during the pre-bid, we agreed to accept the earnest money through electronic form too.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Post Office for New Town

I wrote twice and even spoke a few days ago to the CPMG (Chief Post Master General, West Bengal), requesting early construction of a post office in New Town. A land was handed over to Postal authorities way back in 2004 or so.
Recently, the Government of India has also been requested to speed up matters. Here is a clipping from today's Pratidin:

* * *
Yesterday, I had a telephonic discussion with CGM, Mother Diary. He assured me that at least a temporary milk booth would be set up before Poila Baisakh. He appears to be a dynamic and active person. I think he will deliver.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Terracotta Roof Tiles from Andhra Pradesh

I went to see the beginning of the roof casting works of the Rabindra Tirtha Bhavan in New Town yesterday. The casting did start but I was told that because of the sloping roof, RMC or ready mix concrete could not be used and hence manual operations were going on which were slowing things down.
This is a picture that I took from Hidco Bhavan, while I was waiting for the vehicle to go to the site. I was also shown samples of Terracotta Tiles that were brought in from Andhra Pradesh as they make the finest specimens. Here is a sample that I saw yesterday:

 * * *
How do you bring a bit of creativity on a staid, black-and-white, boring tender / expression of interest? Here is an attempt (taken from today's Times of India):

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fund Flow Software

Last Friday was the last working day of the Financial Year 2011-2012. I took a meeting with all departmental staff and officers who deal with budget and finance and decided that all allotments in the new FY 2012-13 will be through a specialised software called Fund Flow Software.
  This is designed by NIC and basically takes care of all the myriad heads of accounts in the budget books so that there is a clear sense of what is the correct position in fund expenditure. It is necessary to appreciate that there are no tailor-made commercial software available as govt system of accounts is very specialised but is not a double entry system.
  The provisions of the Vote-on-Account have been incorporated in the software. The officials have been sensitised. Now we just have to be vigilant on initial teething problems and staff training.
* * *
Khabar 365 Din of today carried a front page story on eco-tourism park. Here is a clipping of the headline: