Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Financial Hub Bids Opened

A while ago, we opened the bids for the Financial Hub. Offers have been received from United Bank of India (UBI), United Commercial Bank (UCo), National Insurance Company (NIC), West Bengal Financial Corporation (WBFC), West Bengal Infrastructure Development & Financial Corporation (WBIDFC) and SREI. The scrutiny of the bids will of course take some time. There may also be few overlaps in plot location preferences and procedures for resolving these are slightly lengthy.

Earlier, Allahabad Bank and SBI had already taken land in/near the Financial Hub.  Few, like LIC Housing and Bank of India have requested for a little more time. Few have asked for a different sized plot. These will be considered in due course.

The Financial Hub is achieving critical mass. Now we must try harder to really make it a functioning  international financial centre.
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Saturday, October 27, 2012

25% Cost Slashed for Telecom Infrastructure in New Town

Last month, I had a meeting with various telecom service providers of New Town to get a feedback on the issues faced by them. In New Town, there are roadside spaces reserved for laying optical fibre cables. The duct casing is laid down by NTTIDCO (New Town Telecom Infrastructure Development Corporation), a joint venture between Hidco and Webfil). The cable TV, Internet providers and others who use optical fibre or other cables have to use these cable ducts. There is, thus, no loose hanging cables tied to light poles - a familiar sight in Kolkata.
In the meeting, I said that I'd received complaints that there is no BSNL landline in parts of New Town in Action Area II: they wanted BSNL landline connections for broadband connection. CGM BSNL commented that since population wasn't large enough, capital costs were proving prohibitive because revenue streams would not justify investments. Other cable operators said that they were facing competition from satellite TVs  and requested some tariff concessions.
I learnt that along Major Arterial Road (MAR), the upfront fee payable was Rs 5 lakh per km. For other roads (& certain categories) the fee was Rs. 4 lakh per km.
I requested NTTIDCO to consider a revision onwards for some time.
Recently, NTTIDCO has informed me that for three years, there would be a 25% reduction in upfront fees. Thus instead of Rs 5 Lakh, now Rs 3.75 lakh is payable as upfront fee along MAR. For others, it would be reduced from Rs 4 lakh to  Rs 3 lakh per km.
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Here is a clipping from today's Bartaman:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dashami in New Town

As planned, a little while ago, we had the pre-immersion congregation of several Durga Pujas of New Town Kolkata. The trucks were so arranged as to keep the face of the protimas towards the dais where Justice Asim K Banerjee, MLA Sabyasachi Datta, A.K.Raha, A.K.Patnaik. Gopal Ghosh, Sutanu Kar, P Sen and others, besides me, were present. After an initial group Dhak performance, each Puja Committee had an exclusive opportunity to do a dhak-based dance. There was a great air of enthusiasm. We could do a better synchronization next year, but I think a great start was made today.
Here is a link to a video that I took on my pocket Kodak video:

Here is a picture on my Sony h55:
Dhak Dance in New Town Kolkata on Bijoya Dashami
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Here is a clipping from Indian Express of few days ago:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rajarhat New Town Puja Initiative

Last Thursday, on 18th Oct evening, we held a meeting of all puja committees of New Town. This was held at the Rabi Tirtha auditorium. Justice A Bandyopadhyay, Sgri A.K.Raha PCCF, Dy Commissioner of Police, CEO NKDA and me were there. I learnt that there were about 60 Pujas in New Town. I proposed that (a) we could have a panel of judges to award prizes to Pujas in New Town and  (b) we could consider having all idols congregate at a given point in New Town before immersion on Dashami.
There was enthusiastic support. Some suggested that the single window system for Puja permission needed improvement. Many said that in response to a letter of mine, had actually applied for Green Puja award in Pollution Control Board office. Few hoped that like Jubilee Park in Jamsedhpur, next year there could be a procession of idols in New Town lakes for which a ghat could be built.
Finally, it was decided that:
(i) A Panel of Judges consisting of Justice A Bandyopadhyay, AKRaha, AKPatnaik (retired IAS) - all three residents of New Town - and Ms Ajanta Chakraborty would visit the pandels on Sasthi evening [ it later actually started from 10 pm and lasted till 2 am] ,
(ii) On Dashami 24th Oct, afternoon, from 4 pm onward  idols would congregate near Home Town in Action Area I before immersion for a last hour bonding among New town pujas.

Here is a Puja that I visited yesterday:
A Puja in Action Area II : Mahashasthi day

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Here is a clipping from Sakalbela about the US AIA team visit to New Town:

And here ia a link to a Times of India story on the same subject:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

US Architect Team Visits New Town

Today evening, a US delegation visited New Town. This was facilitated by the US Commercial Service at the US Consulate in Kolkata. It was a 38 member delegation of the American Institute of Architects and the US Department of Commerce. We had the meeting at Rabindra Tirtha where we' also invited a few investors. I gave a presentation after a Baul performance by Nanda Das Baul.. Dulal Mukherjee, Architect & Director Hidco spoke a few words. Here is a picture of the dais:
Present on dais at right: Bill Turner, Micky Jacob, Francis Mudrock Pitts, Janice A Corbett and Richard R Craig.
Time was short. But the delegation visited and appreciated the two exhibitions in Rabindra Tirtha. Tea was served on the open area cafetaria. The illuminated view was splendid.
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Here is a clipping from today's Times of India supplement:
And here is a link to ToI:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Red Crab in Gangasagar

Few days ago, I've written a letter to District Magistrates of North 24Paraganas, South 24-Paraganas, Howrah, Hoogly, Nadia and Murshidabad to the effect that steps may be taken for "saving Ganga" during the ensuing festival season. I have mentioned that there are Pollution Control Board guidelines of how immersion of idols should be handled. I have also referred to the good work being done in Kolkata by KMC (patrolling the ghats, placing vats, creating awareness through a Green Puja award, lead-free paint etc) and requested them to take action through the ULBs for ensurng a pollution-free Ganga during the Puja season.
We will hold a meeting with Puja organisers of New Town on  the 18th Oct evening to inculcate good practices. An award for Best Puja in New Town may also be announced - a practice that had started earlier but has faded away.
I went to Sagar island yesterday and held a meeting today morning. We discussed some short term and long term plans under NGRBA. Chunar De, Programme Director SPMG, N.S.Nigam District Magistrate South 24-Paraganas, PHE and Tourism officers as well as local panchayat and MLA were there.
During the site visits, I could, with some difficulty, capture a photo of red crabs moving freely in the beach. Here is it:

Red Crab in Gangasagar

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Application form for transfer of Salt Lake Forms on Web

We have uploaded the application form for transfer of residential plots in Salt Lake. This is available on a link placed in the Home page of the Urban Development Department web site at : Here is the link
The application format has been considerably simplified.
We are receiving a good number of applications. We plan to issue a public notice in newspapers shortly to enable interested applicants to get the forms etc easily.
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Here is a link in Times of India

Friday, October 12, 2012

3 Stars for Digha

Yesterday, we published the Expression of Interest for setting up a Three Star Hotel in Digha. The site is very rare and beautiful, in New Digha. Here is a clipping:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cobalt 60 for Clean Earth

Last week, we sent our engineers to the Planning Commission where officials of Bhava Atomic Research Centre indicated that the sludge emanating from Wastewater Treatment Plants are usually left untreated and released to the environment and this causes hazards as there are pathogens and toxic chemicals in it. An effective way to make this sludge harmless is to irradiate it with radioactive radiation. Cobalt-60 is a non-hazardous option. The irradiated sludge can thereafter be used as fertiliser.
We would be interested in adopting these methods in New Town where some Wastewater Treatment Plants are being constructed. What is needed, however, are standardized guidelines from the Planning Commission.
* * *

I attended a seminar yesterday on Affordable Housing. Here are some clippings:

Anandabazar dt 11 Oct 2012
Sakalbela dt 11 Oct 2012
Business Line dt 11 Oct 2012
Mint dt 11 Oct 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

When did SBI take land ?

On 2nd May 2012 CGM SBI handed over the cheque for a 10 acre plot in New Town. It is a part of the Financial Hub in CBD.

Here is an old clipping taken from Times of India and posted on this blog on 4th May 2012:

This is in the context of some report appearing yesterday stating contrary facts.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Visit of World Bank Team

I had detailed discussions with a delegation of World Bank officials yesterday. Mr Zhiyu Jerry Chen Urban Economist, Mr Raghu Kesavan Senior Infrastructure Specialist and Mr Tapas Paul Senior Environment met me in two parts. One related to Green City Growth and the other was about National Ganga Mission. Mr Chen and Mr Kesavan later visited New Town and promised to come back for more discussions about formulating a Technical Assistance for capacity building. We also talked about the West Bengal Secondary Cities Project.
* * *
Mr Arun Kumar, Regional Chief HUDCO met me at Hidco yesterday. This was a follow up on my telephonic conversation with CMD Hudco last week about participation in the Financial Hub. We explored options for building up an India Habitat Centre-like structure by Hudco where NHB (National Housing Bank) and others could be accommodated. In fact, consequent of my conversation with NHB Chairman last week about the Financial Hub, he is scheduled to meet Minister F Hakim at Hidco today afternoon.
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Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:
And here is a clipping from Pratidin of today:
Talking of the Financial Hub, yesterday Mr R H Mewawala, Executive Vice President of Stock Holding Corporation of India came to meet me at Hidco from Mumbai to talk about participation in the Financial Hub. He also visited the site.
As a follow up to my conversation with Chairman LIC last week, we will today try to talk to Regional Chief of LIC in Kolkata

Sunday, October 7, 2012

US Business Delegation to Visit New Town on 16th Oct

Last Friday afternoon, representatives of the Bharat Chamber of Commerce and US Consulate met me at Hidco. A 35-member team from USA will visit Kolkata for a 2-day visit. On the evening of 16th Oct, Tuesday, they will visit Hidco. I will make a presentation outlining opportunities for architects, planners, investors and urban experts. Details are being worked out. I will have an in-house meeting at Hidco on Monday.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Construction Tender for Bhagat Singh Bhavan

25th May 2012 was the last date of application for an architectural and supervision consultant for Bhagat Singh Bhavan in Action Area II of New Town. I mentioned this on this blog in April 2012 at the link
Today, our tender announcement for construction was published. Here it is:

And here is a clipping from the Bangla Statesman of 29th September 2012:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Iconic Building for Financial Hub

We will build an iconic building at a very prime location of CBD in New Town. We are on the look-out of the best-in-class architect consultancy firm for this. We published an EOI today:
Meanwhile, we are trying hard to take forward our Financial Hub. Over the last few days, I've spoken to a number of Chairpersons of various large financial intitutions including HUDCO, National Housing Bank, National Insurance Company, ILF&S, UCo, UBI and few others. Chairman NHB is likely to visit the site next week. Today, PNB and SREI representatives will meet me today. I also informally requested FICCI Eastern Region Secretary to help.
We are also planning for a few more road shows soon.
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Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Saving the Ganga in West Bengal

Last Friday, I attended a panel discussion on Save Ganga. It was held in Salt Lake, in the IPHE Building. Rama Rauta of Save Ganga Movement Pune, Paritosh Tyagi former Chairman CPCB, Delhi, Dr Vinod Tare IIT Kanpur, Dr Shyam Asolekat IIT Mumbai, Dr Deepa Dubey IIT Kharagpur, Dr Arunava Majumdar of JU and others were present. B.K Sengupta, President CFBL had invited me. I chaired the panel discusion on Saving the Ganga in West Bengal.
Dr Tare mentioned about the gangapedia site at He advocated promulgation of a law.
I talked about the tension between development and environment.
I talked about involving the citizens and municipalities and referred to our Ganga Utsav held last August.
I talked of learning from past experience, of integrating household connections with massive treatment plants and of ensuring maintenance & operation for 15 years through capitalization.
I talked of the need to allow local variations and mentioned the need for cleaning Tolly's Nullah, Kestopur Canal, Beliaghata Canal and Bagjola Canal.
I talked about the World Bank team that had come to visit the projects in Bengal the same day.
I will hold a review meeting on Wednesday 3rd October.