Saturday, August 11, 2012

Digha Board Meeting

We had the Digha Shankarpur Development Authority (DSDA) meeting today at the Science Centre Auditorium because the Saikatabas conference room is under renovation. I came last evening and stayed at Saikatabas which is being renovated.
I inspected several sites in the morning.
We took the following decisions (1) Along with the Digha gate, landscaping will be done in two other places (2) As a hotel has already done in one site, others will also be requested to take  up roadside beautification (3) A plot of land near Udaipur Beach in New Digha will be set up for auction  for a 3 star hotel (4) A budget hotel will be set up on a half-complete structure where the top floor will be given to DSDA (5) "Nulias" will be appointed to ensure safety of tourists in sea (6) An electric crematorium will be set up on way to Digha Mohana (7) EOI will be invited for a ropeway in Amravati Park (8) Drainage works will be taken up in critical areas (9) Pace of afforestation will be accelerated by forest department.
.....writing this on my iPad in car on way back from Digha. Just crossing Kolkaghat
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Later: here is a picture taken yesteday at Saikatabas on my iPad. I could not upload it using the iPad. So here I am, uploading on my laptop now:
Monsoon clouds and large waves add
amazing charm to old Digha
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Here is a clipping from Times of India of Friday:


  1. Great updates. are a few questions for you again:

    1. When is the Saikatabas getting ready?
    2. Are the hotels in Digha and Mandarmani adhering to the fire safety norms, evacuation plans etc and are they paying taxes regularly? I am pretty sure, a large number of them is not doing both of them. Last time you had told that you will talk to the DM. Series of surprise raids can do wonders as far as compliance is considered. :-)
    3. Any update on total station survey work for Digha-Mandarmani road?
    4, Is the idea of the ropeway that you had planned is getting dropped because of ICZM activities?
    5. Any update from NHAI on Nandakumar-Digha road?They are really slow in execution. Have they issued preliminary notification for land acquisition at least?

    6. Are we planning to open casino in Digha ? Can we get a few more bar licenses in Digha-Mandarmani belt, so that Govt can also make a decent money in the long run.

    1. I am pretty sure casino can be a game changer for quickly bringing up Digha as a tourist hotspot beside increasing DSDA and State Govt revenue.

  2. On a different topic...but this one is close to your heart: Densification of Indian cities.

    A lot of activities is going on in Mumbai in slum re-development as well as redevelopment of different MIG apartment complex by relaxing the FSI.

    I am not sure whether this falls under the jurisdiction of Urban affairs or KMDA but thought of sending you some links.

    Parel Area slum news:

    Bhendi Bazar news:

    and also the mig colony redevelopment in bandra:

    These projects can be done in PPP mode for Kolkata slums as well as areas like Burrabazar. Also the MIG flat redevelopment concepts can be used in almost all the apartment complex of West Bengal housing board like Sudakshina, Labony etc

  3. Sir,

    Just wanted to know if HIDCO has planned any bus parking area? As companies set up offices in New Town, the need for bus parking areas is going to be critical. Normally all companies outsource the bus service and these buses are kept dedicated for the IT companies. So, the buses need place for parking. Neither Sector -V nor Kolkata IT Park at Bantala have any bus parking area.


    1. Usually what I have seen in Bangalore is that the IT park developers only keep a provision of space for the parking of buses. This not only applies to the IT park developers who lease spaces to companies US MNCs like Cisco, VMware, LSI , EMC etc but also applies for the Indian IT MNCs. Infosys Global HeadQuarters in Bangalore is of 80 acres and it has a large bus stand which caters to its employees.

    2. Sir,
      Thanks for your reply. But the reality is that the developers are not considering space for bus parking while planning for their IT Park. I had been to Eco Space area on Aug 03, 2012 and found that the buses were parked on the road that runs beside Eco Space Complex. I am sure that on week days there would be greater number of buses there.
      Would be good if HIDCO, looks into this and makes it mandatory for the developers to allocate space within their premises. For that matter even alighting from the buses should not be permitted outside the premises (not sure if that would be possible). If you take the road from Unitech crossing to the E-W Major Arterial road (that runs to Infosys / Wipro land), you will find buses being parked on a field from the place where the road starts. Once you have more IT Parks being built, not sure how the bus parking would be handled.

    3. But Tanvir...I have a point. Lets say HIDCO reserves a big chunk of land for bus parking. It could have auctioned the land and got and got a huge money but it decides to forego that amount and decide to reserve a huge chunk of land so that vendors providing bus service to the IT companies can park their buses.

      Now, suppose by chance, though the probability is less by the things are turning up now, but still for the sake of argument if we assume, tomorrow a whole bunch of IT companies open centre in Kolkata and that bus parking space becomes inadequate, so what will HIDCO do? Will HIDCO reserve another new piece of land for bus parking? Do you really think this model is scalable?

      The IT parks need to manage this scenario.

    4. Yes sir. That is what I had mentioned, it should be made mandatory by HIDCO for the IT Park developers to allocate space within their premises. However, there would be smaller IT setups that may not have adequate space for bus parking within their premises. In that case, HIDCO may develop bus parking bays and charge the concerned companies. This is a problem that we need to address at this stage. It will definitely show up as more companies set up shop in New Town. There are already large IT Parks in New Town that do not have any bus parking inside their premises. In fact, the buses are not even allowed inside the premises.

    5. Yes, HIDCO should take a look at it. Obviously the companies can also force the IT park developers but they are not bothered as long as they are not impacted.

      Now, the question is why is HIDCO not taking a look at the problem? Tanvir, this is the way how administration in our country works. They will never take any action until the problem reaches a grave proportion. I can give you an example. When 1 or 2 hawkers set up shop, nobody would evict them till they reach a critical number of few hundreds. And then when a critical mass of hawkers is there, they would ask for rehabilitation and compensation.

      Tomorrow, if by chance, the number of IT Companies in Kolkata increase, the bus owners can also start demanding free parking or parking space rehabilitation and then some political parties will start patronizing it and administration will say that "We are helpless".

    6. Dear Abhishek,
      I do not think that it is really possible for HIDCO to get down to micro level at this stage on all possible fronts. I have noticed several areas where HIDCO has done an excellent job – going down to the details of things.

      Just to cite as an example, On August 03, 2012 I went down the road that runs in front of Eco Space and is likely to connect at right angles to another road which goes all the way to DPS Megacity. I think the Financial Hub is on this Eco Space road too. The road is yet to be completed with working going on for the last few meters. I noticed that from Eco Space, the road, which I think was made not more than a year ago, had a deliberate slope towards the service lane. Then there were drain openings at the main road and service lane divider that were at right angles to the road. Both the slope and the drain alignment was nothing but common sense but to actually put it in place was brilliant! Everywhere we get totally flat roads but are the conducive to the rains that we have? Certainly not! With this road, the HIDCO engineers have reduced the maintenance cost since water would not accumulate. The way the drain opening has been kept will ensure that greater the height volume of water rushing towards the drain, the easier will its pass through will be. It was raining when I was driving but there was water accumulation only at the drain openings. It was great work done at mirco level!!!

      Another example: The underground cabling in Sector V is a mess - be it electrical or optic fibre. Let’s not blame anyone here for it. It is a situation and there is no solution for it since there are no cable routing maps available. We have to only deal with this situation. So, only open trench work is advisable in Sector-V. In HIDCO area I am told that they have already laid ducts inside the ground for the optic fibre cables to be put. This is another case of thoughtful mirco management of a (govt.) project.

      I think it is a little unfair to simply blame administration in such a manner.

      About hawkers, it is a totally different issue. The police or the municipality/ corporation cannot just drive out hawkers. There are a large number of social, political and administrative issues to first deal with. Basic question - would you prefer these people as hawkers selling food on pavements for their livelihood or taking up criminal activities for money to feed their children and themselves and possibly be a threat to your property and life. There is a lot of brainstorming going on at high level to address the hawker issue. The root cause needs to be addressed - employment. There are hawkers all over the city - we need to accept them and have an inclusive attitude approach instead of an exclusive one.
      Regarding bus owners, they are tied to the companies that hire the buses. So the civic administration does not need to deal with the bus owners alone. The companies hiring them are also responsible for their compliance. HIDCO needs to set the rules, set up parking bays, set the charges after consultation with the companies hiring the buses and outsource the maintenance and collection of charges to any of the facility management companies. HIDCO will have a revenue sharing model with the facility management company responsible for the parking lots. So, HIDCO is needed only at policy and strategy level. For operations, HIDCO need not be involved on a day-to-day basis.

      I think we should empathise with the administrator we normally criticize. It will give a broad picture of the magnitude of the issues that an administrator has to consider for even the simplest of solutions.


    7. Very very good post Tanvir. Good that you brought up the point of the minute things HIDCO is looking at and this should really be applauded.

      The point that you brought up about bus parking is really nice. The suggestion is doubt... lets see whether this gets implemented.

      About hawkers and day to day affairs, I have a different point. Ok.... if HIDCO is not involved in day to day affairs in New Town, you tell me who is going to look at it....I dont think KMC or KMDA will at this point of time. Who will look after cleaning of roads or collection of taxes or beautification of parks and public places and installing dustbins in streets?

      Now lets assume for the time being the case of new hawkers formation. Do you think in any new place like New Town, suddenly one day, out of no where hundreds of hawkers gather and start business? I really dont think so. They start in small numbers. Cant we enforce law at that stage. Cant we get them trained as masons, plumbers, electricians etc ...the skills which are really short in number? Has there been any effort towards that...I have not heard at least. You can verify the fact if you ask any household in Kolkata....that how difficult is to get hold of an electrician or plumber nowadays.

      About old hawkers and employment issue....yes I agree the problem is there. We cannot evict them and need to look at them doubt about this. But did the administration do something about this? Did they try to renovate the old markets of Kolkata and try to accommodate the hawkers in the extra floor space? The old markets of Kolkata like Gariahat market, Koley Market, jagubabbur bazar, chandni market, Maniktola Bazar..... all are dingy, shabby and in a dilapidated condition. Did you see the condition of Burrabazar? Has there been any conscious effort by the administration to renovate it in spite of repeated fire breakouts. However municipality collects trade license fees and property taxes from all these places. Other than college street market, I never saw any other market getting renovated.

      Forget the condition of Kolkata markets, just take a look at the market complexes of Salt Lake and you will find in what dirty and dingy condition...they are in.

      Employment is a major problem in Bengal...almost every household has some relative working outside the state for the sake of livelihood. But that does not mean that we should keep the things they are in and not plan for betterment. In fact, we should be lucky that WB has a continuous outward migration of population from state, otherwise the situation would have been much more grave.

    8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    9. Hi Abhishek,

      GOI has put in place an act with respect to street vendors. You may refer to the link:


  4. Today's Bangalore edition of Economic Times carried out an article on a futuristic centre of excellence that is planning to come up in Bangalore . This is one of those rare kind of institutes which is trying to avoid the Govt funding route and have gathered quite a lot of corporate endorsements ( likes of Sudha Murthy, Uday Kotak etc have donated generously). This is going to be a center of excellence in human settlements and urbanization.

    Can HIDCO invite this institute to set up its centre in Rajarhat ( instead of Bangalore). If that seems too big a task, we can request them to establish a branch at least like the way they are planning in Delhi.

    In no time, this is going to get an university status and a reputed institute of research.

    Some more related info:

    I think this is going to interest you.

  5. What are the Public transport (Buses) available in New town?