Monday, July 30, 2012

Hidco board meeting

We had the board meeting of Hidco today. Some of the decisions we took included (1) sculpture workshop with 10 noted sculptors in September (2) agreeing to part sponsor by Rs  500 lakhs the widening and  of   the Bhojerhat-New Town road by PWD (3) approval for e auction of two plots and opening of bids of Eco resort in Eco park (4) enhancing tender powers to engineers(5) approval of construction of senior citizens' park  (6) approval of butterfly garden and games in Eco park etc
Going to Hyderabad now. Writing this on my I pad from Kolkata airport

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Paver Blocks in Colour

If you notice concrete paver blocks used in many pavements, riverfronts and footpaths, you may observe that the colours used are grey-concrete, pale yellow or matt red only. Four-five basic shapes are used in different combinations to make the desired pattern.
Since we are moving towards a blue-and-white theme, I explored the idea of getting blue paver blocks. I was told that paver blocks of this colour are not available. Can these be produced on request?- I asked.
A Digha based firm said no. A top engineer, known to be dynamic and knowledgeable, enquired and later threw up his hands. Finally, Hidco Chief Engineer Ananda Ganguli has got few blue pavers made. These have arrived at site and a little while ago, I went and saw how it looked. Here is a photo on my camera:
For the first time in Bengal, blue paver blocks are used.
(Location: Action Area 1, near 3rd rotary) 
A little but significant step forward for respecting the theme of Kolkata.
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Here is a clipping from today's Times of India. We have a Board Agenda on this tomorrow:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

New Kolkata Development Authority Meet

NKDA Board meeting was held today. We decided, inter alia, that (a) parking fees would be introduced in New Town :  the rates were approved today (b) block committees consisting of officers would be formed to report on local problems and solve (c) water meters would be installed in commercial, institutional and bulk residential buildings (d) scada-based sensing automation for utilities such as water supply, sewerage, power supply, optical fibre etc would be devised (e) strong action would be initiated against such institutions who had started operating with involvement of many students/ people without Completion Certificates (f) e-tender would be used for all works above Rs 50 lakhs
* * *

I held the review meeting with all agencies at Eco-Park today. I advised for two more entry gates - one near the Rabi Aranya and the other near the Bonsai Garden. Here is a picture from my Sony h55 today morning of the Bonsai Garden area:
Bonsai Garden site
Inset: View Tower being built
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In the review meeting today, I referred to the Anandabazar story that appeared today. Here is the clipping:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Recycling Construction & Demolition (C&D) waste

In the sphere of Solid Waste Management, we talk of organic wastes (kitchen waste etc) and recyclable wastes (plastic, paper etc). But about 33% or so of the Solid Waste generated are "inerts" ir concrete / brick aggregates. The Govt of India is now trying to evolve a way to handle the C&D wastes. In its letter no F.18/20/2012-W.1(DG) dated 28.6.2012, the Urban Development Ministry has urged all Urban Local Bodies to take a focussed view on disposal of C&D waste. It cites the example of Burari in Delhi where a recycling plant (500 tons/day) is already operating. GoI has suggested, among other things, setting up of recycling facilities in towns with more than 10 lakh population. I have already asked the Deputy Secretary to take this forward.
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Here are two clippings from today's Times of India:

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Yesterday, Aajkal brought out a small story on our "No Ad" roads of New Town:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Statue Installation

I saw the installation of the statue in Rabindra Tirtha yesterday afternoon. Two pictures, taken within a span of 20 minutes or so, with my mobile, from my fifth floor office at Hidco Bhavan:

Before (left) and after (right) installation of the statue
[Observe the reflection on water]
I was reminded of the scene from Hirak Rajar Deshe where a statue of the King was uninstalled by people. In an opposite sense.
* * *
Hon'ble Mamata Banerjee, CM, made un unscheduled stop at Eco-Park yesterday evening. By the time I reached, she'd left. This was her second visit in a few weeks on way to/from airport. Yesterday, she was returning to Kolkata after attending Pranab Mukherjee's swearing-in ceremony. I was 5 pm or so.
* * *
Mr Sudhir Krishna, Secretary, UD, GoI, spoke to me yesterday evening. A meeting with bankers will be held by GoI at Vigyan Bhavan on 23rd August.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Uttam Awards

Yesterday I was at the Film Award Ceremony at Science City. Here is a pic from my mobile:
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We have published an advertisement inviting bids for a plot for commercial cum retail use. Here is a clipping from today's paper:

* * *
Ajanta Chakraborty of Times of India met me on Monday. Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Mayar Khela"

We finalised the broad parameters of the inaugural ceremeony for Rabindra Tirtha on 22se Sraban. I met Hon'ble CM yesterday afternoon and apprised her of the details. Here is the invitation card:
5pm on 7th August :
Cover of Invitation Card for inauguration of Rabindra Tirtha
Soon after the inaugural ceremony, the dance drama "Mayar Khela" will be staged by Sutapa Talukdar and troupe. Songs by eminent singers are also being finalised.
* * *
We are building a State Government Office Complex in Salt Lake, in a plot adjacent to UD Department. Architectural design has been awarded. Here is a clipping from today's Brtaman:
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The date of submission of proposal for the Eco Resort in New Town has been extended. Today's papers carry this advertisement:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Senior Citizen Care, e-Governance and Plot Review

Here is a clipping from today's Bengal Post:
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Here is a clipping from today's Sakalbela:
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And here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Road from New Town to Bhojerhat near Bantala Leather Complex

Last month I'd written to PWD about the need to repair the road to Bhojerhat from Action Area III of New Town. We'd just connected the East-West Major Arterial Road that runs beside the site earmarked for Infosys/Wipro to the PWD road that connects North and South 24-Paraganas and ends on Kolkata-Basanti Road near Bantala Leather Complex where there are Cognizant and other IT companies.
Ajit K Bardhan, PWD Secretary, spoke to me yesterday and sent a preliminary project report. It is a stretch of about 6 km and would cost Rs 1,590 lakhs to widen and strengthen it. He asked me if Hidco could share the cost.
I will place it in the next Board Meeting of Hidco that is scheduled on Monday the 30th July 2012.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Digha Spa and e-Auction again

The 3.24 acre land at Digha has been put up for tender again as there were only two responses last time. Here is the advertisement for setting up Spa & Health Clinic:

 I will hold the next DSDA meeting on 11th August 2012 (Saturday).
* * *
Two more e-auctions will be held by HIDCO. One is for a car showroom and the other for an eye hospital. Here are the advertisements:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dida Dadu Park

Yesterday we discussed the concept of a dedicated park for Senior Citizens. I recently came across an article on the Nani Nani Park concept in Mumbai, Delhi and elsewhere. The concept is that we have children's park in many places but what do we have for the rising number of elderly persons, retired professionals or professors, corporate managers or officers ? Can we set up a user-management model where the users themselves - the primary stakeholders - will run the park on a day-to-day basis? Such a park may have yoga / meditation centres, spiritual and laughing sessions, table-top chess and open air cards, group discussions and golf cart, fishing and boating.
I have requested Chief Planner of Hidco to select a place in New Town where we may set it up.
 * * *
  Yesterday's Times of India's net version carried a story on Urban Planners from Kabul visiting Hidco. However, I didn't find it in the print version. Anyway, here is the link:
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Today's Times of India carries a story on Rabindra Tirtha inauguration. Here it is:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rabindra Tirtha in 365 days

I just saw my own blog-post in this site of August 2011. A link from Times of India dated 7th August 2011, mentioned in the post, is (the link works !). Today, it has been decided that the Rabindra Tirtha will be inaugurated on 7th August 2012 (22-se Shrabon). We are expecting Hon'ble Chief Minister to inaugurate. Hectic last-minute preparations are going on: there is still a race against time. I never knew there were so many tiny things to do - the audio system of the auditorium, the Central AC of the audio-visual room, the placement of the statue, the setting up of the exhibition hall, the landscaping, the pavers, the paint of the pool railing, the external wall paint etc. All of us are trying to put in their best efforts. Tomorrow I'll take a focussed meeting.
* * *
In the morning, I discussed about setting up of a park for the elderly. In Delhi and Mumbai these are known as Nana-Nani Parks. Some of these are running very well: I read a recent report how NGOs and ULBs are running these...I've asked our PMU to find out more details.
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SE PHE told me if we could think of a low-cost machine that can convert plastic bottles into oil, it's called motor oil. This can reduce the menace of plastic bottles clogging drains. I have aasked for further details.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Task Force for 150th Birth Anniversary of Vivekananda

The Task Force for organising the World Youth Festival on the occasion of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda met today. Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh is the Chairman. Shri Santanu Maharaj of Belur Math, the Techno-India Group and other officers are members. I am also one of the members.
We discussed various issues and took some important decisions. There is a lot to do. The main event will culminate on 12th January 2013.
* * *
Sakalbela carried this story on GIS today:

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Financial Hub

The last date of application for participation in the financial hub in New Town, Kolkata will be over on 31st July 2012. We are considering a fresh strategy to get participation of banks etc. Here are few reports that appeared in today's press:
Pratidin dated 15 July 2012
Times of India dated 15th July 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Densification of Cities

Our press advertisements for the Densification of Cities:

The audience at Swiss Hotel:

The inaugural session:
L-R: Me, Harsh Neotia, Raghu Kesawan (World Bank),
Minister Saugata Roy, Firhad Hakim,
Dr Sudhir Krishna Secy GoI, MoUD,
Stephen Mckenna (UK Planner)
Speakers from UK, Singapore, Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata deliberated. I learnt many things and will help me chart a trajectory. I will soon post a link to the presentations, transcripts, executive summary etc.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Preparations for 14th July Seminar

I was in Delhi yesterday. I had a Workshop on Affordable Housing to attend, as member of National Task Force. I also attended an Audit Committee meeting on KMRCL (where I am a member director; KMRCL deals with East-West Metro). I also took the opportunity to meet Secretary UD GoI, Director of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Vice Chairman DDA, Addl Secretary MoEF and others to request them again to participate in Saturday's workshop.
 At the National workshop on Affordable Housing, I learnt of quite a few interesting things:
(a) Section 35AD of the Income tax Act now gives some benefits to investors who develop Affordable Housing for EWS/LIG/MIG
(b) There are seven or so new construction methodologies that have been identified for quick construction of Affordable Houses. Some deal with monolithic, mould based casting technology.
(c) In some states, they are making "hollow plinth" mecthod for using the hollowness as car parking.
(d) In one model, 10 flats/ apartments are being placed on the same floor to minimise costs for 30 sq m flats.
(e) Some Housing Finance Corporations are using NGOs / SHGs to help on paperwork for loans.
 We also deliberated at length on definition of EWS/LIG etc
* * *
Times of India has brought out a story on LRT:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Green Corridor

The Major Arterial Road from Technopolis (in Sector 5) to Haldiram (on VIP Road) will be a hoarding free, banner-festoon-free zone. Hidco/ NKDA/ District Administration will jointly monitor this. Here is a clipping from today's Pratidin:
No hoarding / festoon etc on M.A.R
Yesterday, around 1 pm, I was in the field when the convoy of Hon'ble Chief Minister passed by. I was supervising works on a new kind of fencing being contemplated for saving the landscaping from cattle. I turned back, but the convoy zoomed away before I reached the eco-park site where she'd made an unscheduled stop for a very brief while.
Usually, we've been using bamboo fencing but these are not standing up to the weather well. I advised the engineers to make the height shorter by about six inches.
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The State Cabinet has approved a proposal for awarding work of constructing five Railway Overbridges. Here is a clipping from today's Bartaman:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

First e-Auction Conducted

Hidco successfully conducted its first e-Auction of a plot of land for setting up a 10+2 school. It was done by MSTC, a Govt of India PSU. The auction was quite crisp and the 2 acre plot was sold for Rs. 10.10 crores.
I plan to do few more e-Auctions soon.
* * *
Ms Nandita Chatterjee, Addl Secretary, MoEF, GoI held a site inspection of the Finance Centre Building in New Town where the National Green Tribunal will be located. This was followed by a meeting with Chief Secretary where some matters on Ganga pollution from Botanical Garden were discussed.
Quite co-incidentally, there is an article on Ganga Pollution in today's Anandabazar. Here is a clipping :

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Seminar scheduled with Afghanisthan officials

Yesterday a team from JICA's (Japan International Co-operation Agency) Kabul unit met me. They want us to hold a seminar followed by a site visit of New Town, Kolkata in August for a small group of urban planners from Kabul. They are interested in knowing about urban governance in general and new city creation in particular. I said we'd be happy to help. A formal request is expected soon.
* * *
Arnab Roy and I met Mr John Nutt and Mr Amit Khandelwal of UK Govt along with the British Deputy High Commissioner Mr Sanjay Wadvani yesterday evening. We talked about the scoping study on urban regeneration now being undertaken by the two member  UK Team ( Stephen and Ruchi, who were also present along with Rishi)  and discussed the next steps forward.
* * *
Today's Sakalbela carries this story:

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SE Housing NTP demonstrated sample landscaping works on road number 4444 coming off the 6th Rotary. I liked all the four demonstration samples and discussed a few modifications. I've asked them to do the work quickly in the East-West and North South Major Arterial Roads that they were constructing. Here is a pic from my camera:

Landscaping Sample in Road 4444 of New Town

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Judicial Commission and Green Tribunal in New Town

I inspected the Finance Centre Building near the Eco park in Rajarhat New Town yesterday. The fifth floor has two wings, each of about 5,000 sq ft or so. One wing will house the Green Bench Tribunal and the other the  R.N.Roy Judicial Commission constituted by the state government. I requested the Chief Engineer to quickly do up the floorings, false ceilings and AC.
The building offers a breathtaking view of the Eco Park, just across the road to Airport. Here is a shot from my camera:
Eco Park from the Finance Centre Building
 * * *
Today's Times of India carries a story on the New Town's green efforts:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pre Bid Meeting: Eco-Resort in New Town

I held a pre-bid meeting yesterday on the 5 acre eco-resort to be set up on PPP basis within the 480 acre Eco-Park in New Town, Rajarhat. There was a lot of enthusiatic discussion and the bidders made various suggestions. The responses would be posted on Hidco's website.
I explained that the FAR allowed was 0.20 which meant that most of the 5 acre plot would be green - in tune with the plan of the eco-park within which it was situated. Height of any structure would be upto tree height only, so as not to obstruct view. In its location within the Eco Park - where Hidco is investing a considerable amount - it would be an awesome project, I'd remarked.
In the afternoon yesterday, Debashis Gharai of Sakalbela walked in to my room. Here is what he wrote intoday's Sakalbela:

* * *
Today's Anandabazar mentions (among other things) that the last date for apllication for Financial Hub has been extended till 31st July 2012. A clipping:-
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The Salt Lake-Rajarhat supplement of Economic Times given with Times of India contains this:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Densification of Cities : 14th July 2012

Yesterday, I handed over to Mr Sudhir Krishna, Secretary MoUD, GoI, the invitation card of our Seminar "Densification of Cities" : he will be the keynote speaker. Here is the card kit:
Densification of Cities:
National Conference on 14th July 2012 at Swissotel, Kolkata
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I often wonder how news of closed-door meetings reach the media. Anyway, here is a clipping from today's Bartaman: