Sunday, March 31, 2013

Monsoon Preparations

With a little bit of shower yesterday, we decided to review the monsoon preparations against flooding. The main storm water - ie surface run off water - of New Town comes through the Ghuni Pas Canal. It starts from near the City Centre II location and comes to discharge the inflow into Bagjola canal near Action Area I. However, during peak monsoon, the water level in Bagjola rises above that of the Ghuni Canal and so huge pumps have to be installed to pump out the water from Ghuni Canal to Bagjola Canal. Here is a picture of the construction site that engineers hope to finish before the onset of monsoons:

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The Children Eco Park was made open to public yesterday as scheduled. Hundreds of people and children visited it on the very first day.
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Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Herbal and Ayurvedic Garden in Eco Park

A 3 acre site has been earmarked for a Herbal and Ayurvedic garden in Eco-Park of New Town. Already there is a tropical rain forest where the plants are a year old. Adjacent to this zone, the Herbal & Ayurvedic Garden will be set up. The Govt Ayurvedic College in Kolkata will be making the garden, which will be used for its own students as well as for the visitors to the Eco Park. There are also plans for setting up a demonstration cum sales counter from which genuine herbal products will be available for purchase.
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The Special Engineer, UD is taking steps to construct a G+13 office complex for use of state government offices in Kolkata. Architectural plans have been drawn up. Administrative approval was accorded last week. Here is a clipping from today's Times of India on this subject:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Children Eco Park to Open from Saturday

I inspected the Eco Park's Children Park day before yesterday. We took a target of opening it for public use  from Saturday. I will inspect it tomorrow.
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Here is a clipping from today's Khabar 365:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Basanta Utsav in Rabindra Tirtha

This morning, Basanta Utsav in Rabi Tirtha was celebrated for the first time amid great enthusiasm and colour. The whole arena was very creatively decorated. Here was the first impression as one entered Rabi Tirtha at seven in the morning:

The performances by Dancers' Guild were very innovatively choreographed. It had all the flavours of Shantiniketan in a friendly non-invasive air and without the maddening crowd. Here is a picture of the dance by Dancers' Guild:
  Channel Tara News telecasted live. Other TV channels also came. All in all, it was a memorable and a very successful event. We already started planning for next year.
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In the afternoon, I along with a whole lot of Hidco officers witnessed the launching of the Zorbing and Kayaking activities at Eco Park.
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Here is a link to a video by "Chalo Jai" on Eco-Park:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Zorbing Trial in Eco Park

Yesterday, Mr Neil Law & others did a trial run of Zorbing and Kayaking in Eco Park. A class 10 student participated in the Zorbing trial and was thrilled at the experience. We plan to start the activities on 27th March afternoon: the day of Basanta-Utsav. Here is a photo:
Zorbing from 27th March
Inset: Kayak trial
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Here is a clipping from Khabar365:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cherry Blossoms of Kolkata

I remember having seen a movie once of the Japan Cherry Blossom Festival. Only for a few days, the trees turn a magnificent pink as they come into bloom. Some enthusiasts camp at the foothill of Mount Fiji, trying to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking view of pink cherry blossoms against the snow capped volcano.
The Cherry Blossom festival in Japan begins with the spring equinox. Today is the Spring Equinox (21st March). I spoke to Saurabh Chaudhury, Conservator of Forest this morning and came to know that the trees with the magnificent pink bloom that I have been seeing in the last few days on the road divider median near Hidco Bhavan are called Tabebuia Rosea.
As one passed the second rotary from Salt Lake side and drove along the main road towards Hidco Bhavan, one could enjoy a great sight. The tabebuia trees that are lined along the median road divider had all bloomed profusely just few days ago. Not one but many trees bloomed almost synchronously. From a distance, the full pink blooming trees looked similar to cherry blossom trees.  I searched the web and discovered that the tabebuia trees in Malaysia are often regarded as Cherry Blossoms of Malaysia. I think we too can call these trees Cherry Blossoms of Kolkata.
Here are a few pictures taken today. The prime is past - the full bloom lasted only two or three days and now only a fraction of the flowers are there. I missed capturing the photo when the trees were in peak flowering time: how dazzling a display it was! Must remember next year.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mechanical Aids for Construction

Yesterday, I along with Hidco's team of engineers, visited the site of TCS's IT Construction zone where construction work is going over a 40 acre plot of New Town. I wanted to know the project management tools and mechanical tools used by the private sector. Some of the elements that I liked were (1) Web Camera to monitor construction site from control room (2) a special software that recognises engineering drawings, convert these to 3D to see that conflicts and fouls don't takke place among utilities (3) threading of steel rods, like water pipes, to make columns (4) mechanical pile breakers (5) table-top shuttering (6) use of curing compound (7) "alufox" cladding for columns (8) hydraulic pile drivers and (9) modern workers' sheds and conference room at site.
Here is a picture:
Alufax and Table-top shuttering: speedy work tools
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Here is a clipping from today's Ekdin:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"City Buses for Women"

I received a letter from Ministry of Urban Development Govt of India dated 7th Feb 2013 in which it has been suggested that in all million plus cities, there may be separate city buses for women. These separate buses may be of various sizes - in standard as well as mini / midi buses. There should be a reasonable frequency too, it has been suggested. This advisory is a result of a meeting of a Committee of Secretaries of Govt of India on measures to be taken to tackle the menace of sexual crimes against women.
I forwarded the letter to the Transport Department for necessary action. I'll discuss if we may have a few "Women's Special" in New Town too.
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Here is a clipping from today's Sakalbela:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Digha Ropeway and Cottages

Quite some time ago, we'd initiated a process of setting up a ropeway in Digha's Amaravati Park. Expression of Interest was invited and a bidder was selected. There were some issues raised by the selected bidder and it took time to resolve these. Finally, the matters have been resolved and Soumen Pal, EO DSDA tells me that the foundation stone would be laid soon next week. Although the ideal ropeway should be along the coastline connecting Old and New Digha, CRZ norms and land issues need to be negotiated till this can happen. Meanwhile, a 200m or so ropeway in the Amaravati Park, across the lake with a mini-stop in the island should be a tourist attraction.

Survey work has also been done for setting up a set of eco-friendly cottages in New Digha, overlooking the sea. As soon as land and other clearances are received, work should start.
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I visited the Children's Park in Eco Park yesterday to see if this could be inaugurated next week. The highlight of this "Prakriti-Shishu Tirtha" is a set of tree houses connected with rope laddders. I'd seen a rope bridge in Lolegaon in Kalimpong and now I'm waiting to see it here. Executive Engineer Somen told me that this too could be inaugurated next week. I will make another inspection on Tuesday.
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Here is a clipping from yesterday's Times of India:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Meeting on Prudent Bank Procedures

Yesterday, I attended the Board Meeting of WBIDFC to understand how the defalcation of Fixed Deposits took place in WBIDFC. Today, I held a meeting of Finance Heads of KMDA, NKDA, Hidco and SPMG along with CEOs to take steps to visit banks, reconcile fixed deposits every month and generally follow prudent banking norms as per Finance Department GO dated 21 Jan 2013.
I also advised that CFOs should hold quarterly meetings with sectoral FOs, and inspect bank branches.
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 We issued a notification yesterday afternoon appointing Shri Gautam Deb, Minister of North Bengal Development Department as Chairman of SJDA (Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority).
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Here are two clippings appearing in today's Telegraph (Salt Lake):

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Presidency University in New Town

Yesterday, Dr Malabika Sarkar, Vice Chancellor, Presidency University visited the 10 acre plot of Action Area I allotted to Presidency University for their second campus. We discussed at length how the second campus could start early and the steps required to be taken. I learnt several new concepts like digital humanities, multi-disciplinary courses and other sunshine themes that may be considered in the second campus.
Here s a photo:

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We held meeting of the Fact Finding Committee til late evening yesterday (left office a little before 9 pm). We toyed with a cardboard curved flyover to see how it would topple. We discovered that that there was an inherent tendency for it to fall down only on the outer curve - as distinct from the inner curve - even if there were no moving objects.Here is a photo of our makeshift experiment in my office chamber yesterday:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Building Expert of KMC to be NKDA Member

Yesterday, the state government issued a notification appointing Shri Anindyo Karforma, Director General of Buildings Department of Kolkata Municipal Corporation to be a member of New Kolkata Development Authority. He will also be designated as the chief of the Building Committee of NKDA. His vast experience with KMC is expected to bring in professionalism in New Town as well. This assumes greater significance since in the hinterland of New Town too, NKDA building rules will prevail over panchayat rules for all big buildings.
I spoke to Shri Karforma yesterday and welcomed him to NKDA.
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Here is a clipping from today's Pratidin:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Art Street

When I was doing my Public Administration study in ENA, France, I often used to walk by the Seine, from Notre Dam Church onward.  The streets there used to remind me of College Street footpath stalls but instead of books, there were paintings, posters, post cards, portraits and art of various kinds. There were the occasional coffee stalls, people looking and few buying art but artists working on paper, canvas and a host of other materials.
When we were concluding the art workshop yesterday, I thought of creating a little Art Street around the brilliant pictures now adorning the graffiti walls of Eco Park. I discussed with the engineers, dug out the Master Plan and chalked out a blueprint.
Here are two clippings from today's papers:
Times of India 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Graffiti Workshop Starts at Eco Park

Earliy in the morning today, 15 young and talented artists came over to Eco Park to start a workshop on wall art at Eco Park. Painter Suvaprasanna introduced the artists and inaugurated the workshop. A picture:
9 am, 8th March: Graffiti Paint Workshop
at Eco Park
The atmosphere was festive. The artists were eager. Engineers and officers of Hidco had done a great job of organising the whole matter - bringing in the artists, creating the workplace, getting litres of paint and brushes,  painting the wall with off-white paints as a backdrop - and the tea etc.
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Yesterday, I met a team of 4 Senators of France who had come to Kolkata. They were a part of a "France-India" Friendship Group" of the French Senate. We talked of Urban Development, Food Processing, Foreign Direct Investment, French Cuisine, Tax and legal framework, Land Monetisation, Co-operative farming and other things.
Here is a picture of our breakfast meeting yesterday:
L to R: Consul General F Etienne; President of Friendship group
Senator F Marc, Ms V Letard Senator, Ms P Schillinger Senator,
Mr G Cesar, Senator, Me 
I told them of my ENA days in France (2003-04) and they were delighted to speak in French to me and I followed what they said (to a great extent) but my replies were in English mixed with un peu francais.
Here is a cutting from today's Ei Samay on Eco Park:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Visit from Embassy of Netherlands

A 3-member delegation from the Embassy of Netherlands in Delhi met me at Hidco today. The delegation was led by Mr Cees Bansema, Deputy Head of Mission, Delhi. He was accompanied by Ms Maya Acharya, Senior Policy Advisor and Mr Namit Shah, Honorary Consul in Kolkata.
We talked of many possible areas of future collaboration. This included housing solutions on water, zero based solid waste management, compact land saving STPs and development of Inland Waterway for freight. Here is a picture:
L to R:
Maya Acharya, me, C Bansema and N.Shah
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Speed and weight restriction signs were installed on the right turning flyover connecting Major Arterial Road of New Town to VIP Road near Haldiram Bhujiawala. Here is a picture on my Sony h55 taken this afternoon:
20 kmph max speed allowed on flyover;
Inset: Max Axle Load 18 tons

Here is a cutting from today's Times of India:

Yesterday at Rabindra Tirtha, there were three song performances. Here is a picture of Sasha Ghosal who sang brilliantly, enthralling audiences:
Sasha's last number was
"Bandh Bhenge Dao"
- I liked it a lot

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Graffiti Wall Paint Workshop from 8th March

At the southern end of Eco Park, as you drive away fro Hidco Bhavan towards Salt Lake, you encounter the Eco Park entrance plaza through a series of 6 feet tall white walls, with creeper beds on the top. These are designed to be Graffiti Walls and the intention in the master plan was to display some vibrant colours of Graffiti Art in Eco Park.
The idea of a Graffiti Painting workshop was approved in the last Board of Hidco, held on 9th Feb. Now the dates have been finalised in consultation with master artist Suvaprasanna. We are thinking of starting a three-day workshop this Friday. Each wall will be assigned to an artist who will be free to develop a theme to his liking. Paints and accessories will be provided by Hidco. 
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Here is a clipping from today's Times of India:
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Here is a picture of Jhumur performance at Eco Park yesterday:

Friday, March 1, 2013

New Routes for Hidco Buses

On my personal request, Transport Department has issued route permits in the following two routes:
1. Balaka Abasan - Rabindra Tirtha - Eco Park - City CentreII - Airport
2. Eco Space - Tata Health Centre - Rabindra Tirtha - NKDA - Technopolis - Ultadanga
There will be bus terminus at a point near Balaka Abasan in AA-1D and near Eco Space, behind it. These two would form a backbone of a transport solution for connecting New Town to the Kolkata grid. Hidco Buses would operate in these two routes.

New routes have also been created by Transport Department for buses that will terminate at Eco Park. Let us see when these start plying. Meanwwhile, Asish Thakur, MD WBSTC tells me that his corporation will run weekend buses terminating / starting  at Eco Park.
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For the coming weekend, here is a clipping from Times of India:
"Plan your weekend now"
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Here is a picture of inauguration of Street no. 4444:
And a cutting from today's Khabar 365 Din: