Monday, September 30, 2013

Master Plan for Solar City approved

Writing this from Delhi Airport - flight delayed by two hours (AI 764). Just came from meeting by MNRE, Govt of India. In their notification number 5/32/2011-12/ST dated 8th Feb 2012, they had declared New Town as a Solar City. Today I along with Gopal Ghosh, CEO NKDA, Pritam Kumar, Manager NKDA and S.Bhattacharya Director WBREDA presented the Master Plan to be executed under the Solar City Plan. This will be followed by DPRs that will be put up for approval. We have already prepared 12 DPRs which will be posed now that the Master Plan has been approved subject to certain conditions / observations. The Master Plan was assessed by a Committee consisting of Joint Secretary MBRE Tarun Kapur and Director Dr A. Tripathy.

The Master Plan Solar City for New Town strives to reduce the projected energy demand from conventional power sources by two strategies: (1) By using Solar and Renewable Power Sources and (2) By using more energy efficient devices.

The proposal for using canals to lay out solar panels was much appreciated. Other interventions under (1) above included use of Solar water heaters, roof top solar panel installations and replacing standby generators with solar inverters and energy generation from solid waste.

Under (2), proposals included use of LEDs for lighting, use of star rated AC machines and use of motors and fans with energy efficient machines and encouraging green buildings. Necessary changes in building rules will also be brought out. Awareness building will also be made with formation of Eco Clubs involving school students.

The Master Plan is a 5 year strategy.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Happy Days in New Town Kolkata

Last year, soon after the Puja festival, we organised Cultural Meets among various housing / block associations of New Town. Children and grown-ups displayed their best performances from their community pujas to an audience that cut across the entire New Town. There was such an enthusiasm that it was difficult fitting in all requests.

Now a year has passed by. The Eco Park is drawing attention from all over Kolkata and beyond. Nearly 2 lakh visitors have already set in their foot in the Park that is barely few months old. The blue autumn skies are round the corner in Kolkata, to be followed by the Kolkata's Winter of melas and fairs. In this season, I am trying to make New Town Kolkata join in.

Here are a few events that we are planning:

1. Agamani Gaan (Rabindra Tirtha, 29th September)
2. Chess competition (Opposite Eco Park, Finance Centre Building, 1-2 Oct 2013)
3. Pujar Adda (Rabindra Tirtha)
4. Remote controlled aircraft model display (Eco Park, 4th Oct, Mahalaya)
5. Car race in go-kart formation (Eco Park Car Park, 6th Oct)
6. Exhibition Rugby match (Action Area I, 9 Nov)
7. Post Puja Sanmelan (26-27 Oct)
8. Grafitti Workshop
9. New Town Mela (23 Oct - 3 Nov)
10. Musical Carnival (21-31 December)
11. Children's Film Premier (December, Eco Park)
12. Car Race in laps (Action Area II, January 2014)
13.  Children's Film Festival (January 2014, Rabindra Tirtha)
14. Kite Festival (4-5 Jan 2014)

As may be seen, some programmes are in the process of being finalised. There would be additions and deletions, alterations and postponements. However, I believe that New Town Kolkata would definitely be a destination that will be difficult to ignore.
* * *
Here is a cutting from Ekdin that I came across:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Post Office

It seems there is some confusion about the postal system in New Town. To understand, I held a meeting with the Senior Superintendent of Post Offices recently. I learnt many things.
- Action Area I is swerved by the Tarulia Post Office. The PIN Code is 700156\
- Action Area II is served by few sub post offices situated outside the New Town boundary. The PIN is 700157.
- The Postal Authorities are looking at setting up 3 post offices in the three Action Areas. They want rentable space urgently. I have offered them to set up the main post office within Hidco Bhavan Complex (in the annexe building). If they agree finally, this will be posed in the next Board meeting. In Action Area II, NKDA officers are helping them find out a suitable room from a housing society on rent. In Action Area III, we will see if a solution can evolve in or near the Vocational Training Centre.
- A new post office building will be constructed on a 5 kottah plot in Action Area I.
- The entire system will be consolidated as soon as the three locations are finalised.
* * *
At present, New Town is served by three police stations: (i) New town Police Station (the major area) (ii) Airport PS (in Action Area II) and (iii) Kolkata Leather Complex PS (in Action Area III, in South 24-Paraganas). We will make an appeal to the Home Department to see if the process of bringing it all together can begin. I'd started a proposal some time back and now we'd again follow it up.
* * *
At the end of Action Area II, on way to airport, one crosses the Rajarhat Road near Chinar Park. This Rajarhat Road, through which bus 211 travels, will be strengthened and repaired - from VIP Road crossing (Jora Mandir) to Rajarhat More - a distance of 8 km. Today, a meeting was held today at the chamber of Minister of PWD where Minister of Transport was also there besides me, Principal Secretary Transport Alapan Bandyopadhyay and Indevar Pandey, Principal Secretary PWD. It was decided that the cost would be shared by Hidco, PWD and Transport Departments.
* * *
A puja publication offered to carry a publicity material on Eco Park at no cost. We took the opportunity to highlight the Eco Cart that we recently introduced. Krishnendu Basak, General Manager Hidco urged Crayons to do a special photo shoot. Here is the output :
* * *
Here is a clipping from Ekdin newspaper:

Monday, September 23, 2013

First 'Dab'

We are developing a specialised orchard zone in Eco Park. The objective is to have a living exhibition of all of Bengal's fruit trees. This will also attract more birds. We are trying to get more than 65 species. A three acre zone has been earmarked and plantation will start soon.

Meanwhile, in course of our inspection last Saturday, I noticed the first green coconut that has sprouted on the waterfront plantation made last year. A photo:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Industrial Township at Raghunathpur

Last Friday, Minister Firhad Hakim released a Kolkata Gazette Extraordinary Notification dated 9th September 2013 indicating that the Land Use Plan for an Industrial Township at Raghunathpur was frozen under section 37 of the West Bengal Town and Country Planning Act 1979. According to it, three blocks (Raghunathpur I, Raghunathpur II and Neturia[part]) and Raghunathpur Municipality constitute Raghunathpur Planning Area. Its area is 480 sq km and population is 2.26 lakhs.

The vision is: "Creating another well-planned, state-of-the-art Industrial Hub for Eastern Region at Raghunathpur".

Publication of the Gazette was a culmination of a long and detailed journey that began on 12th Oct 2011 with the declaration of Raghunathpur Planning Area through a Cabinet decision. The Land Uses were captured through a field survey, a draft Land Plan was published, objections were invited through newspaper advertisements and finally, after considering all aspects, the Land Use Development and Control Plan (LUDCP) was notified.

Here is a picture with Minister Hakim taken at the PHE Bungalow near Panchet Dam, near Garpanchakot in Raghunathpur :

The Land Plan allocates 25% of the land area for industrial uses. This means, almost 30,000 acres are available for industrial use. Other major uses planned are residential townships (30%), Agriculture (19%), Transportation and Communication (7%) etc.
As a follow up, it was further decided that an Economic Corridor from Ranigunj to Dhanbad via Raghunathpur would be planned. An alignment surbey would be started by Urban Development Department soon.
* * *
In pursuance of optimising land use in urban areas, planned densification of cities is a stated objective of the State Government. As a first step, in the CBD and Sub-CBD zones of New Town Kolkata, non-residential plot owners would be able to buy additional FAR (Floor Area Ratio) if their plots were located within 250 metres of the metro railway line being constructed. In the last Board Meeting of Hidco, the permission fees were decided. Depending on the year of plot allotment, a fee ranging from 36% to 67% would be payable for those seeking increases FAR in this financial year.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Visit Again"

On the VIP Road to Airport, as one comes down from the right-turning flyover from Rajarhat New Town, there used to be a rusted blank board on the right lane. This is the back side of a direction side that alerts motorists to take a left turn to go to New Town.

Yesterday, we put up a "Visit Again" sign on this blank signboard gantry. It has a folk art theme and reminds the departing tourist of images of Bengal. It was designed by Hidco's creative agency Crayons. A snap taken yesterday morning:

 * * *
The Kite festival was held in Eco Park yesterday. This was organised by the District Magistrate North 24-Paraganas Sanjay Bansal who'd invited me to attend. In spite of the rains, the large kites, Chandrabindu's songs, presence of stars like Locket Chatterjee, Rachana Banerjee , WasimKapoor, Kanchan Mullick etc drew a great deal of applause. Visitors of the Eco Park who were regular tourists started dancing to the tune of Chandrabindu and requested for weekly performances at Eco Park.
Two photos:

* * *
Here is a cutting from today's Anandabazar:

Here is a clipping from today's Khabar 365:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Broadband Connectivity

In the Citizens' meet that we held few months ago, a recurrent demand was that in some places BSNL's broadband services were not being made available. I wrote a Demi Official Letter to CGM BSNL recently, requesting steps to address this issue. Finally, last Thursday we had a detailed meeting with CGM BSNL Mr Gautam Chakraborty and his large team of senior officers. The BSNL team gave a presentation, and I reproduce three slides:
Locations served by BSNL

Future Plans
BSNL has also promised to open a Customer Service Centre close to Hidco Bhavan. I think that will be a great start to better services.
* * *
Here are two clippings from today's Anandabazar:

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Town Sharadiya Mela

A mela will be organised soon after Lakshmi Puja in New Town. It will be held in Action Area 1, near Hidco Bhavan. This was a proposal that came up during last year's Bijoya Sanmilini at New Town that was held in Rabindra Tirtha where all Puja committees showcased their best cultural events. Now we'll have a Mela and Sanmilini. Both, together, will provide a forum for greater opportunities to create friendship ties among New Town residents.
* * *
Here are two clippings from today's Telegraph Salt Lake:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

CM Visits Eco Park

Yesterday afternoon, on her way back from Barasat, Mamata Banerjee, Hon'ble Chief Minister, spent some time in Eco Park. She did her brisk evening walk, discussed for a while, and left after reminding that all work must be completed by December 2013.

Here is a photo taken by Arijit Sanyal on his mobile:

* * *
Urban Development Department, in their notification number 3377-SL(AL)4S-9/2004 dated 2.9.2013 has brought out a clarification. It relates to payment of fees for getting transfer permission for leasehold residential plots in Salt Lake. Its explanation runs as follows:

"...Explanation: It is however, made clear that all devolutions, except in favour of close blood relations...shall be deemed to be transfer and transfer fees will be applicable. "

This will plug a loophole in respect of revenue receipts of the government.
* * *
Maharaj Secretary of Belur Math Swami Suhitananda and Maharaj Santanu and two other Maharajs met me at Hidco today morning. I took them to the site of Vivek Tirtha, near gate 1 of Eco Park. A photo of their offerings at site of plot. They put some earth from Belur Math and some flowers. A photo on my mobile:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Kite Festival by Election Commission for Voter Awareness

I received an intimation that the Election Commission of India would launch a SVEEP - Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation - Programme at Eco Park through the celebration of a kite festival on Viswakarma Puja day (17 Sep), in the afternoon.
Viswakarma Puja is of course a kite flying day in Kolkata / Bengal. It is a good idea to build upon this synergy for a cause. Remembering my days as Chief Electoral Officer, West Bengal, I spoke to Sanjay Bansal, DM North 24-Paraganas that Hidco will extend all help.
* * *
Here is a photo of the play staged last Sunday at Rabindra Tirtha.. It was very well performed and all audience gave a standing ovation:
"Shasti" : Play staged at Rabindra Tirtha
Sun 8th Sep
* * *
Here are a few clippings:
Times of India

Khabar 365

Saturday, September 7, 2013

297 flats for the Economically Weaker Section

There are two Housing Estates in New Town Kolkata that are meant for the EWS category. One is Balaka (the older one, completed in 2002) and the other is Alaka. Both are in Action Area I and people are already residing there.
There were 297 vacant flats in the two Abasons. Application kits were sold through bank during the period 29.11.12 to 20.12.12. The last date of receipt of applications was 19.1.13. A total of 2,261 applications were received out of which 29 were found to be invalid and were cancelled while 12 applications were withdrawn. That left 2,220 valid applications.
A lottery was held today at Nazrul Mancha. Former footballer Jamshed Nasiri and Chairman WBIDFC Dr Abhirup Sarkar were present as Observers. The manual lottery started at 10.30 am and was completed by 2.30 pm. Results were displayed at the venue soon after. This will be published on Hidco website on Monday. Results will also be displayed at Hidco Notice Board at Hidco Bhavan by Monday. Application money of unsuccessful applicants would be refunded by post soon.
Team Hidco led by Debjani Datta GM(Marketing) and including Sutanu Kar JMD, Samares Mitra CFO, Krishnendu Basak GM(A), Kalyan Sen OSD, FO, AO and a whole lot of staff and officials worked as a clockwork.
A photo from my mobile:
At Nazrul Mancha today:
Jamshed Nasiri & Abhirup Sarkar (cicled yellow) can be seen.
Applicants themselves drew lots

I took the opportunity to review the progress of work of renovation of Nazrul Mancha. SE KMDA, CEO KIT, EE KIT, Architect Havens and Agency accompanied me. Soil test had begun. Four groups would start work from Monday. The Mancha would be air conditioned. We surveyed the areas and did some minor modifications. The renovation will take 6 months.
* * *
Here is a cutting from Khabar 365 that appeared few days ago:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Projects worth Rs 479 crores approved by Govt of India

I along with a large delegation from West Bengal attended the Empowered Steering Committee meeting at Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi. In the delegation were Chunar De (Project Director SPMG Kolkata), Chief Engineer KMDA, Chief Engineer KMWSA, SE KMWSA, Director IPE, Technical Expert IPE, Chairperson Budge Budge Municipality and Deputy Chairman Budge Budge Municipality. The evaluation committee was headed by Secretary to Govt of India Dr V Rajagopalan. Other members were Rajiv Ranjan Mishra Mission Director NMCG, Financial Advisor, Geneve Connors of World Bank, CPHE representative from MoUD, representatives from Department of Economic Affairs and the Planning Commission.
We presented the Sewerage Integration Work and Sewerage Treatment Plants at Budge Budge and Barrackpore. The Budge Budge Project Cost was Rs. 186 crores and that of Barrackpore was Rs 293 crores. Both were sanctioned for approval after intensive discussions.
The World Bank Team would visit Kolkata next on 19th Sep 2013
* * *
In the morning, I called on Dr Sudhir Krishna, Secretary MoUD at Nirman Bhavan, Delhi and presented him with a list of 11 new projects under JnNURM that were already posed to the Ministry within the 31st August deadline prescribed by the Ministry. Dr Sudhir Krishna assured that he would advise concerned officers suitably.
* * *
At Banga Bhavan today morning, before I went to Nirman Bhavan / Paryavaran Bhavan, I met, as per prior schedule, Mr Aswajit Singh MD of IPE and Mr Abhijit Ghosh, Technical Director of URS. Both consulting firms are making further project reports under NGRBA. I requested both to assign more technical persons so as to expedite preparation of DPRs.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Solar Tree

I went last evening to the car parking site near Gate no. 3 of Eco Park. Chief Engineer Hidco Ananda Ganguly, CEO NKDA Gopal Ghosh and others were there with me. We selected two sites where two sample Solar Trees will be set up. The pilot trees are being acquired through the expertise of BESU. The trees contain the solar panels from where electricity will be generated in day and provide shade for cars parked. In the night, it will power LED lights.
Here is a picture of a prototype from the project report. We have been told, however, that the actual look may be quite different.
 On Monday, 9th Sep, a meeting of various departments will be held at Writers' Building to promote use of Renewable Energy Sources.
* * *
Here is a cutting from today's Times of India:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Joint Monitoring Committee for Airport Water

The new Kolkata Airport catches a lot of water. A study by Jadavpur University has recommended that the run-off water has to be drained away at four different points so as not to flood out any neighbouring localities. The water will have to be drained to Nowai Canal and Bagjola Canal across various terrains. A drainage scheme worth Rs 63 crores has been prepared by KMDA to handle the water flow. The issue was posed to the State Planning Board who has approved the project but has advised that a joint monitoring committee should be formed to ensure smooth execution of the project. Accordingly, the State Government has brought out a notification where Chairpersons of concerned municipalities, CEO KMDA, Irrigation Department, and Principal Secretary UD are members and Airport Director is the member convenor. I also spoke to Dr B P Sharma, Airport Director about this.
* * *
I went to Budge Budge and Barrackpur yesterday for visiting sites where waste water treatment projects will be implemented under NGRB project. There will be a meeting of the Empowered Steering Committee at Delhi on 6th September that I'll attend and which will consider the project proposals for sanction. Two photos:
Budge Budge: Chorial Canal draining on to Hoogly

Barrackpore: Latbagan Ghat
* * *
Yesterday, Hidco launched a very very prime commercial plot for bid. This is near the Axis Mall in New Town. The ad:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Lottery of EWS flats on Saturday

297 EWS flats will be distributed through lottery this Saturday, 7th September, at Nazrul Mancha. It was supposed to be held much earlier, but the sudden declaration of Panchayat Elections forced a postponement. Finally, the lottery will be held in the same place. Advertisements will appear in newspapers on 4th September.