Monday, May 28, 2012

High Rise Buildings

I have been arguing for tall buildings for optimum land utilisation in scare urban space. The matter of 'chapatti cities' of India was raised by the World Bank President during his visit to Kolkata, and there is a post in this blog itself. The book 'Triumph of the Cities' by Harvard Urban Economist Edward Glaseser (Penguin 2011) also talks forcefully of this concept - that we must strive for taller cities. In fact we are going to hold a national workshop on "Densification of Cities" on 14th July 2012.

Recently, the MoEF, GoI has brought out an advisory saying that in considering tall buildings fire fighting arrangements not only for the buildings but also the location of the nearest fire station and the width of roads must be taken into account (no. 21-270/2008 - IA,III dt 7.2.2012 of MoEF, GoI). It states that for building more than 15 m in height, there must be a minimum right of way and that the local fire station must be within a given circle from it. The Govt of West Bengal formed a Committee consisting of Environment, Municipal Affairs and Urban Development Departments to study the guidelines. The Committee decided to study the guidelines more intensively.
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Anandabazar:
And here is a clipping from today's Bartaman:


  1. Yes, i support this idea of vertical growth, specially in our case where there is acute land crisis. Mumbai has somewhat adopted this strategy, but no other Indian cities. The list of tallest buildings in India (under construction) has 80% towers in Mumbai, and the rest 20% in other cities. I think in Rajarhat, where we have planning options open, we can consider bringing up skyscrapers. Or we can also try finding some spots nearby the CBD area and can try to change the hooghly river skyline. Nice thoughts.

  2. Rabindratirtha is looking pretty good - looking forward to it's inauguration. This one, along with the eco park and KMOMA is going to change the face of NewTown. And I hope lots of shade trees are planted throughout; to give NewTown a clean and green look.

    And the Digha Gate is fantastic to say the least!

    It feels really great to see the effort you and your team has put in all these initiatives!


  3. This is really a fantastic initiative by you and your department.

    1. We definitely need skyscrapers because of the space constraint . If Rajarhat has some height restrictions because of proximity to the airport, at least we can think of the other places like E.M.Byepass and Hoogly skyline.

    2. Rabindra Tirtha is looking awesome. To make it popular, we need to plan year long activities there.

    3. The "Marine Drive" planning is also great. If we can extend it upto Junput, if not haldia, that will be great. I know marine drive to Haldia will be a little ambitious, however if we can extend it upto at least Junput and Tajpur, then tourism to these 2 places will also receive great boost. The drive should be wide enough to accommodate motorists as well as pedestrians who are interested in leisurely walks. If we can earmark bicycle tracks that would be great. In no time hotels, condos and private villas will come up along the marine drive and we should plan and regulate them in a nice way so that the skyline looks really nice.

    One example can be

    4. If possible, we can plan for Kerala style houseboats in the lagoons around Tajpur.

    5. Also for all these coastal towns, we should plan for proper town planning authorities, if DSDA can do that its great. But we should come up with a future roadmap of the towns with things like public shopping centre , hotel zones, residential areas, medical centres and movie theaters.

  4. Sorry...noticed now...Tajpur is between Mandarmani and Digha.... so I think relevant will be to to extend the marine drive upto Junput.

  5. I do not agree with you on the vertical development issue unless the other benefits of vertical growth is forwarded to the society at large.
    Their are different exparts divided on the issue. In a country like ours mostly blind following of west results in some mindless and soulless consequences. We need to be careful of the problems associated with the high density vertical growth as well.
    In economics term there are marginal social cost as well which may not be properly delectable in hacneyed profit and loss statement.
    Their can long term health issues to crime rate increase and many other social issue unless the proper assessment is made.
    We need to be much more sensible and comprehensive in our approach to understand all sides of the story not just one viewpoint of a single expart.
    The vertical development doesn't always mean high density development. It may be leaving more greenery around a highrise which took lesser ground footprint.
    all spaces that we construct and destroy the landscape is not merely property of our generation but these are intergenerational equity. Since the stekeholder likevthe future generation can not be represented now, we need to be more sensible in our approach.

    Ar. Abhishek Dutta

  6. Sir one request! can you please post Digha master plan either in DSDA website or here once it is ready? Also if you have any timelines for different things scheduled in future that will be great!!

    One suggestion is that we can select different beaches and surrounding area and create it based on some theme...e.g

    Theme Honeymoon(multiple piers into the ocean,beach marriage,Pledge points and many more..I think people across the world does at least one travel in their lifetime which is honeymoon and we can cash in on that),

    Theme Adventure(all the adventure sports,theme parks, roller coaster etc),

    Theme Bengal(may be a convention center that can hold even film festival in future as a long term strategy,promote local handicrafts, culture) etc

    1. Abhishek: I am not sure but Mr. Sen can confirm I think the problem with any masterplan for Digha will not be possible because of the land acquisition issues. We cannot acquire land and make stuffs like business convention centres and residential places and theaters and shopping arcades etc. If we can complete the Digha - Mandarmani marine drive , I think that itself will be a big task. Thats why I had told before that marine drive till Haldia itself will be too ambitious.

      However , whatever you have suggested is really nice.

  7. Dear Mr. Sen
    A comment on a totally different matter.
    The earlier map of Newtown had an area designated as a Golf Course. I dont know why it got cancelled. It would have been really nice if we could still have that, in line with our efforts to project this place as per world standards. It would also be in synergy with the Financial Hub, Multinational companies, IT companies, Eco Tourism etc.
    I'm sure that many companies would be happy to partner Hidco in this project, if you could spare the land.

    1. I partially agree with the above comments. Seems that NewTown is gearing up to become a very densely populated suburb. It would have been better if it was a little less dense and more green. Growing vertical is good; but care should be taken to ensure a breathing space for citizens. I would love to have a calm and quiet NewTown, similar to what parts of Salt Lake currently is.

      Golf course, stadia, botanical gardens (like eco park), auditoria (like kalamandir, MP Birla sabhaghar etc.) and designated play-grounds and community centers should also be given stress.
      I saw the golf-course in wikimapia; never knew it actually was planned.

    2. Hi Arun,

      When we are not being able to give land to the software companies who are asking for it to set up centre, do you think HIDCO will be able to provide land for Golf Course?
      I dont think so.

      However Mr. Sen can confirm. Anyways the idea of Golf Course is really nice.

      Moreover what I feel is right now we should focus more on the following stuffs first for the next 2 years as far as Rajarhat is concerned:

      1. Bringing Purified drinking water to New town and Greater Rajarhat.
      2. Integrated underground sewerage system. ( As far as I know, we are just dumping the sewerage now to Bagjola and Kestopur Canals and we do not dredge these canals also).
      3. Underground Electric cabling to New Town and Greater Rajarhat.

      4. Regulate the developments and the township projects being built by private builders outside Hidco AREA. These township projects should have road width of minimum 50-60 feet as well as underground sewerage and underground electric cabling and potable drinking water supply. It should not happen that once you go outside the HIDCO Area, we feel unregulated and unplanned development all around. There should be some amount of uniformity between HIDCO and non-HIDCO areas in Rajarhat.

      5. Shopping Markets in Action Area 3.

      6. Complete the MAR work on Action Area 3 upto Bhojerhat and Kolkata Leather Complex.

  8. regarding Digha; there is no limit to what could be done. You are surely doing a very good job!

    If foreign tourists are targetted; there should be proper bus service, proper law and order, help kiosks, forex centers, and PROPER availability of alcohol.

    Some areas near the beach could be developed as French Town, Spanish town where buildings, roads and related areas should follow the European architectural style.

    Targetting only middle-class would not generate revenue. There should be hang-out zones for the rich and famous. In the long run, a racing track could be developed in that area as well.

    Again, there is no limit; but probably it would require huge land acquisition. And of course, a proper law and order environment where tourists are not conned.

  9. Khargar in Mumbai can be an example in this case.There are world class infrastructure and amenities and aso golf course spread across lush greenyard.The beautiful place is a treat for our eyes.So introducing some natural greenery and a beautiful golf course somewhere in b/w will add value and serenity too.Theme parks will be fine too.


  11. At the moment, golf course isn't an option.

  12. @ArcOnDesign: I refer to your post dt 29 May 2012. I agree that dense city model is necessary, but not sufficient for sustainability. I hope that the following quote will set you seeing the other point of view:

    "In recent years city planners, developers and policymakers have increasingly looked towards designing a more ‘compact city’ in order to achieve a more sustainable urban form. There are many perceived benefits of the compact city over ‘urban sprawl’, which include: less car dependency thus lower emissions, reduced energy consumption, better public transport services, increased overall accessibility, the re-use of infrastructure and previously developed land, a rejuvenation of existing urban areas and urban vitality, a higher quality of life, the preservation of green space, and the creation of a milieu for enhanced business and trading activities. (Thomas and Cousins, 1996)"

    1. Watched a related program this week on Rajyasabha TV: