Friday, November 30, 2012

141 on Day 1

On the first day itself, 141 application forms for EWS flats were sold yesterday.
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Here is a clipping from today's Bengal Post:

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Here is a clipping from today's ToI:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

297 units of Affordable Housing for Allotment

Today, Hidco has published advertisement inviting application for allotment of affordable housing units for the Economically weaker Section. There are 297 such flats for allotment. All are in New Town Kolkata, spread in two existing housing estates called Balaka and Alaka. Here is the picture of the brochure, available for sale from some branches of Axis Bank:
The price varies from Rs. 2.66 lakhs to Rs. 3.47 lakhs. Flats will be allotted through lottery. Here is the advertisement that appeared in several newspapers today:

There is a special counter in the Hidco Stall at 'Bengal Builds' where various queries are being attended to. Incidentally, Hon'ble CM had kindly inaugurated the Hidco stall by cutting the ribbon of the Hidco stall before she went to the dais.
Hon'ble CM at Hidco Stall at Bengal Builds:
Photo Courtesy Subhamita Dey

Talking of Bengal Builds, here is a photo taken from my Sony Camera from the dais where Hon'ble CM inaugurated Bengal Builds (I was in the second row):

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Here is a clipping from today's Khabar 365, giving a detailed coverage of our London visit:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Preparation for Bengal Builds

We went to inspect the making up of the Hidco stall in Milan Mela Complex (Hall B) for the 'Bengal Builds' Exposition that will he inaugurated by Chief Minister tomorrow.

A lot of Hidco officers were present. Here is a picture of the stall as it stood at 5pm today:

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Here is a clipping from yesterday's Aajkaal:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Solid Waste Management : Hidco & KMC

In New Town's Master Plan, there is a mouza called Beonta where a Solid Waste Disposal Area was earmarked. This is in South 24-Paraganas, on Basanti Road. But this is not available for use as the area has been included within East Kolkata Wetlands.
Today evening, we had an urgent meeting to explore alternatives. I've requested Suman Neogy, GM-Engg Hidco, to talk to Irrigation Deptt and see if some canal-side land may be spared. Let's see if we can, together with KMC, get some new location.
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Here is a clipping from today's Times of India

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Authority Meeting of DSDA at Digha

Yesterday, we had the Board meeting of DSDA at Digha. We took a number of decisions including probable day of next year's Beach Festival on 23-25 Jan 2012. We also decided to invite Expression of Interest for bids for Hovercraft Service and Snow Park. We decided to earmark land for a Catering and Hotel Management Institute at Digha and for a Circuit House at Digha.

Before the meeting, District Magistrate Parvez Siddiqui and me visited Shankarpur. The beach embankment was so eroded that no one could go to the beach at all. Locals seemed quite agitated that tourists were shying away from Shankarpur as they could not go to the sea beach. Here is a photo:
Sea erosion at Shankarpur
 We decided at the DSDA meet to construct a wooden pedestrian walkway soon, pending setting up of a heavy erosion resistant concrete ghat.

I was happy to know that a small structure at Amaravati Park that we'd given to the Fisheries Department for a Coffee Shop had started functioning. Here is a photo:
New Coffee Shop in New Digha 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

City of London and CityUK

City of London is one square mile of central London where the financial institutions are located. We met Paul Sizeland, Director (Economic) of the City of London yesterday.
City UK is a not-for-profit organisation working in partnership with City of London. We met Wayne Evans, Director (International Strategy) at Guildhall yesterday.
We learnt many things: (1) That we had to concentrate on highlighting why Kolkata should be considered (we talked of the mathematics and IT knowing skills of Bengal youth, the lower cost of manpower) (2) That it offered lowered taxes / real estate cost than, say Singapore (iii) That even Mumbai was 63rd on the International Financial Centre list - among the top being London, Singapore, New York, Dubai, Shanghai etc - we were give a list of the 2012 rankings (iii) That CityUK has an MoU with Moscow and their first report is already out and a copy was given to us.
We said that the possibility of an MoU with Kolkata was also a possibility.
Here is a photo:
Me, Paul Sizeland, Firhad Hakim and Wayne Evans
 at Guildhall, City of London on 20th Nov
Connecting with George Nicholson of Thames River Regeneration was a great experience. George had initiated KMDA to Millennium Park based on Thames Renewal Mission - in 2001 or so. He took us around for a walk by the River Thames. We learnt many things that can be done after land consolidation and sensitive planning. Here is a picture:
A Walk by the River Thames (South Bank) on 20 Nov
R to L: Me, Minister, George, John Nutt
We also sat in the House of Lords and House of Commons for some time. Minister spoke to Lord Popat of Harrow on our visit at the British Parliament yesterday.Minister Mathew Hancock from UK, we learnt, would lead a delegation to Kolkata early next year.
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Today meeting Clive Dutton Executive Director of Dockside was a revelation: how they were 'Making a new City in a Capital City' (their caption in a presentation at site) was very parallel to New Town.

In the evening, we met Hiro Aso, Director of John McAlsan who is renovating an old railway station, King's Cross,keeping heritage Victorian structures intact, was simply amazing. The busiest station of London now looks like a modern Airport.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

UK INDIA news from London

Last Friday Minister Firhad Hakim met Sir Michael Bear, former Lord Mayor of the City of London. The discussion revolved around ways in which international financial institutions could be made interested in thr Kolkata Hub. He gave some very useful suggestions and practical advice. A follow-up meeting will be held today at 3pm at Guildhall, City of London - the main place in London where all Financial Institutions are located.
Here is a picture:
Minister Firhad Hakim and Sir James Bear at London on 16th  Nov
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Yesterday, the "West Bengal Urban Regeneration & Development : Scoping Study" was released in a special ceremony organised by UK Trade and Investment and UK India Business Council. MOS UK Greg Barker spoke of the 'West Bengal Miracle'. He mentioned that a Mission to India / Kolkata would be led by him next year. He remarked that India was UK's Partner Country of Choice.
  Mr Firhad Hakim, in his speech mentioned that economic development and creation of employment opportunities in urban areas were the priorities. He welcomed partnership opportunities with London and mentioned that it could be 'A Tale of Two Cities'.
The main features of the Study Report were presented by the experts of UK India Business Council.
Here is a picture:
Minister Firhad Hakim and Minister Greg Barker releasing the Study  Report
at London on 19th Nov
There were a lot of questions from the participants. It continued well into the lunch time. Minister Hakim responded to one of the questions by saying that the government would consider setting up a special cell to help NRIs  in West Bengal. Quite a few related to the Financial Hub in New Town Rajarhat, and this prompted me to show a 5-minute video of New Town that I was carrying in my pen drive. During one of the questions, I congratulated the UK India Council for sending their team to Kolkata for three months and remarked that solutions would have to be sensitive to local culture and needs: there could not be any 'cut-and-paste' solution cloned from elsewhere.
Many participants expressed that they would soon travel to India to work out actual areas of mutual co-operation.
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Here is a clipping from Pratidin:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Urban Renewal and Financial Hub Meet in UK

Now I am in the immigration-checked area of Kolkata Airport, waiting to board London bound Emirates flight EK571. Minister Mr Firhad Hakim is leading the 2-member delegation. We have a busy scedule ahead where we will highlight Urban Development in West Bengal and Financial Hub in New Town Kolkata.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

EOI for Financial Hub Phase II

After the Phase I of the offer inviting participation in the International Financial Hub in Kolkata's New Town, it is seen that the following Financial Institutions will participate in / near the Hub:
State Bank of India, Kolkata Stock Exchange, Allahabad Bank, United Commercial Bank, United Bank of India, National Insurance Corporation, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, West Bengal Financial Corporation and West Bengal Infrastructure and Financial Development Corporation.
Today, notice inviting Expression of Interest for the second phase has been published. Here is a clipping from the notice in today's Times of India:

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Here is a clipping from Business Line (Great to see this blog mentioned in print !):

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Town Building Plan for Neighbouring Area too

To construct any building, one has to submit a building plan and get it sanctioned. In Kolkata, the sanction is given by Kolkata Municipal Corporation. In New Town, sanction is given by NKDA (New Town Kolkata Development Authority) in accordance with the provisions of the NKDA Act. However, areas just outside New Town is rapidly urbanising too. Although these are Panchayat Areas, big developers often approach Gram Panchayats for sanction of big buildings.
The Panchayat & Rural Development Department has recently acknowledged that there is a need for ensuring that big buildings surrounding New Town may also conform to the same scrutiny and rules as those in New Town. In its order no. 5747/PN/O/I/IA-7/01 dated 8.11.2012, it has laid down that for buildings beyond a height of 15 metres, all plans in the neighbourhood of New Town must be referred by Zilla Parishads to NKDA for scrutiny and No Objection before sanction is accorded.
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Here is a clipping from today's Times of India on the polyclinic plot sale:

Monday, November 12, 2012

A "Health Plot" for New Town Residents

There is, as yet, no hospital / clinic in New Town which is designed to cater to the local residents of New Town. The target design population of the tow is 10 lakhs but at present the number of people actually staying is estimated to be 15,000. But numerous construction activities are going on, every day new building plans are being submitted for sanction and the dependence on Salt Lake / VIP Road area for health treatment has to come down. With this in view, we had put out for auction a 22 kottah plot located in Action Area I for a Polyclinic cum Day Care Centre.
The last date of application was 9th Nov. The highest bid was Rs. 6.85 crores for the 22 kottah plot (ie @ Rs. 18.45 crores / acre).
I hope to complete the formalities quickly so that the process of setting up the Day Care Centre can start at the earliest.
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We are building a digital archive for Rabindranath at Rabindra Tirtha. Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:
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And here is a clipping from today's Anandabazar about Bio-Toilets in New Town:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

New Town Rajarhat on Google Map

There were a few queries as to whether we could have good maps on the web, especially after my post on plot/ premises number and street numbers (see also clipping below). The issue is that to show up to the street level, one needs a map on a large scale. The blue print containing the working drawing is on a chart-paper sized paper for action area IA only. If this is converted into a pdf file, it would be very large and quite difficult to download and/read on the screen. AutoCAD software is also not available with most users and as such this version cannot be put up on our web.
On the other hand, we'd internally done some work on incorporating street numbers within Google Maps. So all that is necessary is to go to Google Maps ( and put in "Hidco Bhavan" in the Search Box.
Then pan & enlarge as required to see the lay-out of the streets, the odd-even numbers and the lay-out.
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Here is the clipping from today's Times of India referred to above:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bijoya Sanmilani & Film Festival

At Rabi Tirtha, Minister Firhad Hakim gave away prizes for winning Durga Puja communities of New Town at 1 pm today. The cultural function that took place later was fantastic, I was told, but I was away to the Kolkata Film Festival inauguration at Netaji Indoor Stadium. Here is a picture on my mobile phone:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Letter of Intent for Ropeway in Digha

At Amarabati Park in Digha, there will be a ropeway for the tourists. After inviting Expression of Interest, Pre-Bid Meeting, Presentation and Financial Evaluation, an agency has been identified who will set up this tourist attraction. It will traverse the Lake, rising up to the island in the middle and land on the other side of the lake. Its length is estimated to be 150-200 m. A provisional letter of intent has just been issued.
We also want to have a ropeway parallel to the beach between new Digha and Old Digha. This, however, will require Coastal Zone clearances. Let us see if this is possible.
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Here is a clipping from today's Khabar 365:
And here is a cutting from today's Pratidin:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

House Number System in New Town

House numbers in New Town have a 6 digit code. The last four digits represent the street number and the first two digits represent the plot number.
Thus if the house number is, say 120012, the plot number is 12 and the Street Number is 12.
North-South Streets have even numbers. East West Streets have odd numbers.
Odd numbered plots are on one side of the street. Even numbered plots are on the other side.

What happens if the number of plots in a street is more than 99 as the number of digits allocated for plot number is two? There aren't any cases now but we are thinking.

Recently, I've requested NKDA to erect street number signs and maps at strategic corners to help anyone locate a house easily. Zone-wise and land-mark based groupings will also be worked out.
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I was present in the press meet by Minister Firhad Hakim yesterday at Milan Mela. Here is a clipping from Pratidin:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bio-Toilet to e-Toilet?

In the Eco-Park in New Town, there is no underground sewerage line in most parts. So we are experimentally setting up two pilot Biological Toilets (Bio-toilets) that would not need water or sewer connection. Upkeep and maintenance will be part of the contract to the firm that will set it up. Here is a picture as appearing in their documentation:
Today, I learnt of "e-Toilet" in Urban News Digest (September Issue). The Bill Gates and Melinda Gates Foundation, I learnt, has awarded a large grant to the firm based in Kerala. I checked their website and found features like coin-operated door, automatic washing/ cleaning and remote control from control room through GPRS.
I sent an email to them seeking further information.
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Here is a clipping from today's Ebela: