Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ferries Wheel Location Hunt

The ideal location for Ferries Wheel or Kolkata Eye is still being evaluated. We have a meeting with all respondents of an EOI floated earlier next Wednesday which will be presided over by Minister Hakim. ILFS will make a presentation. We are considering a site on the Howrah side, diagonally opposite to the Millennium Park as well as Millennium Park site. Even New Town's Eco Park may be a probable option. Each site has its plus and minus. We'll have to see how the investors feel.
Today morning, I visited the Howrah site along with KMDA and ILFS. A photo on my camera:
Howrah Riverfront Near Vidyasagae Setu
Inset: Site for Kolkata Eye?
* * *
A large Chennai-based large Financial Institution came to meet me today to enquire about New Town Financial Hub. Their only request was that they should be allotted the plot within this Financial Year as they were reluctant to wait till the next Financial Year. I advised them to apply obeying formalities in the first place. 
A nationalised bank met me last week and told me of their eagerness to invest in the Financial Hub.
* * *
Here is a clipping from Bartaman that appeared few days ago:

* * *
And a clipping from Ekdin:

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sangeet Utsav in New Town

I received a letter today from the Information & Cultural Affairs Departmentthat they'd like to hold Sangeet Mela from 5th to 13th April at Eco Park (Prakriti Tirtha). Earlier, we'd received communication that the Sangeet Mela would be held at Rabindra Tirtha. It is good to know that New Town is integrating itself to Kolkata quite fast. By the way, we are planning to have Basantotsav at Rabindra Tirtha on Dol.
* * *
Here is a clipping that appeared in today's Times of India:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

5x10 lane crossing

The sixth intersection of New Town has a confluence of five 10-lane roads. As such, to enable pedestrians to cross from one side to the other, a complicated underground ring subway is being constructed. A transportation consultant was engaged by Hidco to design this subway: during the initial stage I'd also articulated my views. Now the road to airport is being cut and the traffic is diverted through the service road.  Yesterday morning I inspected the site:
Why the road to / from airport is being diverted?
* * *
Yesterday, Father Felix Raj, Principal of St Xaviers' College, met me at Hidco and handed over a banker's cheque for 75% of the land value. Here is a picture at my office chamber :
L to R: Ravi Kant Kasat, Sutanu Kar, me, ather Felix, Finance Officer Hidco:
Handing over cheque
* * *
Today evening, at Rabindra Tirtha, I saw Chand Sawdagar. Here is a photo:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

National Conference of Principal Secretaries

Just attended the National Conference of Principal Secretaries of Urban Development. This was held at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. We learnt that the Govt of India would accept fresh proposals for projects under UIG and UIDSSMT and that these would benchmark Service Level Norms. Three years would be the project execution time. However, old projects have to be completed by March 2014 failing which Central Assistance would be recovered with 9% interest. I suggested that GoI may also consider if the old projects may also have an extended timeline co-terminus with the new ones since Jnnurm was continuing in any case.
Here is a photo on my blackberry:
At the conference, we were given the latest issue of Urban News Digest. Here is a clipping:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Another Swimming Pool in Salt Lake

There is a very ancient swimming pool in Bidhannagar. This is in CF Block, in Sector I. Bidhannagar Municipality has proposed that another swimming pool would be constructed by them if land is allotted to them. At UD, we've identified a plot and agreed to the proposal in principle. Few formalities are left and I've spoken to Ms Krishna Chakraborty, Chairperson Bidhannagar Municipality.
* * *
Just coming back from seeing "Kon Notuner-i Dak". This is a Dance Drama based on Tagore's Taser Desh. It was superbly executed in a unique way and I quite liked it. Here is a photo on my camera:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Plot for Medical College

A prime 10 acre plot of land in Action Area II of New Town, Kolkata has been identified where a Medical College and Hospital can be set up. An Expression of Interest has been recently been published in newspapers, it can also be seen in Hidco's website. As per Medical Council of India guidelines, a minimum of 10 acres of land are required for setting up such a Medical College. With the passage of time, it is getting increasingly difficult to get 10 acres of compact land in New Town. So the terms and conditions have been made in tune with MCI guidelines including "who can apply".

 * * *
At the Eco Park, Chairman of Bio Diversity Board delivered a talk on Bio Diversity. I learnt many new facts,  explained very lucidly. I learnt of the "charismatic animals" like tiger and lion for whose preservation, he said, crores of rupees are spent while there are so many other endangered species who are vanishing from the world every day.
Here is a pic taken today by me at Eco Park today afternoon::
At Eco Park:
Sutanu Kar, Dr A K Sanyal Chairman Bio Diversity, Dr Abhirup Sarkar

Friday, February 15, 2013

Street Directions for Salt Lake

Last Wednesday, I took a meeting with Chief Engineering Advisor (UD), Bidhannagar Municipality, Hidco and Naba Diganta officers to decide how signages can be put up to make Bidhannagar easy to navigate, especially for visitors. Being a planned township with similar-looking roundabouts and block formations, reaching an address is sometimes a problem.
Bidhannagar Municipality representatives said they were already working out something and few proto-types were being put up for evaluation.  CEA(UD) said the plan of Bidhannagar with their office shows the hierarchy of streets such as 1st Avenue, 2nd Avenue etc.and 1st Cross Road, 2nd Cross Road etc. The trouble, it seemed, was that these were not visible at street level.
Nabadiganta and Hidco have started electronic road signages with LED letters that scroll to guide onlookers.    There was a suggestion that street corner concrete road directions (as in Delhi) could also be a possible solution.
After talking to Chairperson Bidhannagar Municipality, we decided that the technical scheme would be suggested by CEA(UD) as per their planning maps and this would be executed on ground by Bidhannagar Municipality.
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Telegraph:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New Corporate Email Domain

In Hidco, we were using various email domains. Myself included, many use gmail accounts even for official purposes. Some use yahoo. Some use, and so on. Now we have just got for all the domain Typically, an email id will be:

  For example, my email is

Thus, if you know the name of the manager / officer of Hidco whom you want to contact, just use the formula above. However, it will be a week or two before the system stabilises and everybody switches over to the new system.

Our System Manager (IT) Mr Subhankar Debnath has launched this corporate email system.
* * *
Here is a clipping from yesterday's Anandabazar:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ganga Water for New Town, NDITA etc

After inviting tenders, pre-bid consultations, technical evaluation, administrative appraisal, a letter of intent has been given by PHED to M/s Simplex to build the intake jetty at Hoogly and lay down the six feet diametre pipeline till New Town. This is a very large project and funds will be pooled by Hidco, Nabadiganta, Municipal Affairs Department and PHED. Whille the 30 MGD Dhapa Treatment Plant being built by KMC will cater to the water requirements of southern fringes (towards Garia), the New Town WTP will cater to the north-eastern fringes of New Town, South Dum Dum etc.
I, along with enginneers of PHED, Hidco and Simplex visited the alignment from the intake point near Kashipur to BTRoad, Tallah Bridge, Kolkata Station, VIP Road and New Town. It is a challenging project - considering the congestion and traffic of Kolkata - but eminently do-able. Here is a photo:
At the Intake Point at Kashipur
Inset: With Local Coucillor
 * * *
Following up on our London visit, Mr Nigel Austin, MD, Arup India, met me at Hidco today. We discussed about the Iconic Tower Project at the Financial Hub. I explained that applications already made in response to EOI were being evaluated by an expert Committee and was expected to be finalised upon the return of the Chairman from abroad. I however, learnt a few things about architectural requirement of International Financial Companies.
Here is a picture with Mr Austin:

* * *
Here is a clipping from yesterday's Bartaman:
And a clipping from Khabar 365 that appeared a few days ago:

Nazrul Tirtha Tender Floated

Last Friday, tender notice was floated inviting agencies to bid for the project. The last date of application is 1st March. The link is available at Hdco website at

In this blog itself, I had commented in June 2012 that although the design was then done, it was likely that it would undergo changes. The matter was referred to an expert committee and a completely new design was drawn up after many interactions between the committee and the architect. This took a while. Finally, the design was spectacular but I will not publish it in this blog as I want the surprise to be there! After the design was frozen, the structural details were worked out and the detailed BOQ (Bill of Quantities) - ie how much concrete, how many piles etc) computed. The whole design had to be checked for structural safety by an independent institution. And so we are here. I hope we will be able to award the work within this financial year itself.
* * *
I am presently in Delhi now. We had a detailed discussion on progress of JnNURM projects with MoUD. I informed of my visits to the sites of several projects and was able to tell the ground realities to GoI. I, however, stated firmly that while West Bengal had completed 17 projects and achieved 18 of the 23 reforms, its share of ACA (Additional Central Assistance Fund) - now being deducted @10% along with many other states)  should not be withheld any more.
* * *
Yesterday, a play called "Aral" was staged at Rabindra Tirtha. It was awesome - a very fine 70 minute one-act play done very proficiently. After the show, I went up to the dais and congratulated the director.
Here is a photo:
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Visitor-friendly Activities at Eco Tourism Park

In the Eco Park, we already have shikaras and paddle boats for visitors. I have been receiving requests from few groups that they too would like to organise some activities in Eco Park. There has been a proposal for kayaking, ballooning etc at the water body in Eco Park.
Yesterday, at the Hidco Board meeting, it was decided that such activities would be allowed on a revenue sharing basis. I informed our System Manager to put up a short notice in the Hidco website as follows:

 "Persons interested in organising boating, snorkelling, water sports, ballooning, angling or other such activities on a 49:51 revenue sharing basis may contact Hidco".

Last evening, ILFS/BUIDL organised an open air "Kabi Pranam" at Rabi Aranya of Eco Park. Here is a photo:

Kabi Pranam at Eco Park
[Inset photo courtesy Arijit Sanyal]
* * *
We have started preparing for the monsoons by looking at drainage projects. Last year, monsson rains were relatively less and there was no flooding issue. This year, we are starting to take action in respect of drainage channels. I visited yesterday morning a site where a box culvert is being constructed. This will connect water channels to a link canal in Action Area II. Here is a pic:
Box Culvert in progress
"Will be completed by April"
* * *
Here is a clipping from Ekdin of 7th Feb:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Tomorrow's City Today - Bellagio Conference Report

On 12-14 September 2012, I joined a group of urban professionals in Bellagio, Italy for a conference called "Tomorrow's city today". This was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. My air fare was also sponsored by them. The conference tried to find common frameworks and standards to compare different cities of the world that are moving towards sustainable cities, eco friendly cities.
The report has just been finalised. My hard coy s on its way from UK by post. Meanwhile the soft copy was emailed to me today. This can be seen at:
* * *
Today morning, I went to the site where the work of internal road started in Action Area III. This 1 km long road of New Town will connect the MAR of AA-III to the site of NSG Hub. The starting point of the road is near the proposed site of Wipro and opposite the Arts Acre Foundation coming up. Here is a photo:
Another Road in Action Area III starts today
"Will be completed by 4 months"

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bio-Diversity Interpretation Centre

Today, Dr Asok Kanti Sanyal, Chairman, West Bengal Biodiversity Board had a discussion with me at Hidco. He is an Emeritus Scientist of ZSI. The Board is located at Paribesh Bhavan, Salt Lake. Dr Sanyal explained that as a part of its mandate, the Board would like to set up a Bio Diversity Park or a Biodiversity Interpretation Centre in Eco Park, New Town to generate awareness on the biodiversity of the state with the help of different attractive tools.  I welcomed the proposal and readily agreed to make available a site for this in Eco Park, New Town.

* * *
Earlier, I visited the 30 MGD Water Treatment Plant at Dhapa. This is being built by KMC. It is located off EM By Pass: you have to take the right hand road to Dhapa just after crossing ITC Sonar (travelling towards Salt Lake). This is a project under JnNURM. The project cost is Rs 97 crores. 87% of the work is already done and the remaining work was expected to be completed in a few months' time. Here is a photo taken on my Sony h55:
30 MGD WTP at Dhapa
This will bring water to new wards in and around Ruby Hospital
to Garia side

Monday, February 4, 2013

ADB for Regional Co-operation

A 3-member delegation led by Mr Hiroaki Yamaguchi, Unit Head, Asian Deveopment Bank, met me today about South Asian Regional Co-operation in North Bengal Region. Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) has already constructed a land custom station at Fulbari. Now ADB wish to build through SJDA another two such trade posts near Jaigaon and Panitanki. They are getting other land custom stations in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Assam. Here is a map that explains it all.
* * *
I took a review meeting with ILFS regarding the Kolkata Eye Project near Millennium Park. It was decided that a joint inspection would take this Friday.
* * *
Here are two clippings from today's papers:
Times of India dt 4th Feb 13
 In the evening, we had a meeting with Chairman Assocham (E.R) at Hidco Bhavan. We explored marketing options that can be pusued for mutual interest. And..
365 Din dt 4 Feb 2013
* * *
Here is a photo from my camera of yesterday's Nritya Alekhya at Rabindra Tirtha:

Rabindra Tirtha: 3 Feb
* * *

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Infrastructure Schemes in ADDA area

I visited several infrastructure schemes in Kulti, Asansol, Raniguge and Durgapur today. These are all projects under JnNURM. I visited the following schemes:
1. 10 MGD Water Supply Scheme for Asansol (Project Cost Rs 90 crores)
2. Road from Raghunathpur to Dhupchuria: 45km: (Project Cost Rs 95 crores)
3. Road from Gammon Bridge to Gandhi More Durgapur: (Project Cost: Rs 78 crores)
4. Road from Jubilee Dhaba to SCOB Gate, Asansol: (Project Cost: Rs. 43 crores)
5. Sewerage Project for Ranigunj: (Project Cost Rs. 40 crores)

CEO ADDA Antara Acharya and engineers / officers accompanied me during the visit. It was great reconnecting with my old district (I was DM Burdwan from 1996-99). Quite a few officers recalled few incidents of those days.
Asansol Water Supply Scheme in Progress
(Observe coal carrying ropeway in background)
Kulti Water Supply Scheme
By the river Damodar
I will hold a special meeting at Kolkata on 7th Feb
Ranigunge Sewerage Scheme in Progress
Working in Congested Roads
* * *
On my way back, I visited the Eco Park. The timings have now changed. It is 2pm-8pm on weekdays and 12 noon-8 pm on Sundays and holidays. I was told quite a few visitors had come today earlier. I guess it will take a while for the changed timings to percolate though we'd published about the changed timings from 1 Feb in few newspapers on 1st Feb itself.

Here is a clipping from Hindustan Times of 31st Jan:

Friday, February 1, 2013

Banglar Haat Begins

This morning, there was a ground-breaking ceremony at New Town. Banglar-Haat, a project to showcase and sell Bengal's handicrafts and products, started today. The selected agency organised a small bhumi puja and we broke coconuts to mark the zero date. Here is a picture:
Breaking coconut on JVC
Pic courtesy Arijit Sanyal
* * *
I am now in Durgapur. I will have a review of JnNURM projects in Asansol-Durgapur Region at 7pm this evening. Tomorrow, I will visit the sites.