Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bio-Metric in UD from 2014-15

The Nagarayan Building housing UD Department just got a facelift. This was long overdue: we had to delay it since floors were being added at the top. The four floored building now has two more: the latest, the 6th floor, houses the offices of the State Programme Management Group dealing with the National Ganga River Basin Project as well as a video conference room. The colour scheme was decided by us using computer simulation. Here is the freshly painted building's photo taken this afternoon:

Urban Development Department, Salt Lake
There is a notice affixed in a corner window of the ground floor:

Notice declaring introduction of bio-metric
attendance for all from 1st April 2014
The notice declares the abolition of the manual attendance registers from 1st April 2014 for the UD Department. All concerned - from Principal Secretary to the Group D staff - will have to record attendance in machines such as the following:
Bio Metric Attendance:
Only fingerprint required
In Hidco / NKDA, this method of recording attendance was started one to two years ago. Now the department will also follow.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Nazrul Tirtha Roof

After a month, I inspected Nazrul Tirtha again. See Najrul Tirtha The roof trusses were in place - quite a difficult engineering job. A picture:

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Two clippings from today's Salt Lake Telegraph:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


An equipment has been brought from Germany. I went to see it work yesterday. It is called a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM). It is quite similar to the one used in laying tracks underground in Metro Railway projects like East West Metro. See

The TBM enables pipes to be laid underground without cutting the road surface. The pipe is six feet wide, made of thick steel and encased in concrete. A water jet cuts the earth around the pipe and slurry is pumped out while a huge pressure - 53 bars yesterday while we were there - is exerted to drive in the pipe. It is laser guided to keep it straight. The concrete jacket helps resist the pressure. Later, people will go inside the pipe to weld the joints to prevent water leakage.
This is part of the project for bringing in water from Hoogly to New Town and elsewhere. A picture on my mobile:

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A clipping :

Monday, March 24, 2014

Journey towards a Vat Free New Town?

My facebook friends drew my attention to last Sunday's (not yesterday, the Sunday before) Satyameva Jayate where Aamir Khan talked about keeping our cities clean. I saw it later on the YouTube.

Garbage / domestic waste is collected from the premises of houses itself in New Town, as in many parts of Kolkata as well. But there is no intermediate storage area and the compactors take them directly to the disposal site. But what do you do of public places? Bus stands and parks? Here is a picture of a vat in Eco Park that we've had to tie with a rope to a pole so that errant children or instability do not topple it - especially when overfill:

This is being done for all extra vats that are not fixed to the ground. But how do we deal with overflowing vats, in spite of twice-a-day cleaning (before the park opens and in the afternoon)? Close to 10,000 people visit the Eco Park on special days.

I think the solution lies in ensuring that each person takes care of the waste generated by her. Here is a campaign that we have just begun to launch:
If successful, this can be extended to all parts of New Town, and then to other parts of Kolkata and beyond. However, getting people's co-operation and changing behaviour is not easy or quick. I'll be happy even if we can make a clean vat-free New Town by a couple of years or so.
* * *
Here are two clippings:
The Telegraph Metro dt 24.2.2014
Sanmarg dt 22.1.2014

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Shop Craze

It has been barely a week that sale of brochures have started for allotment of stalls in three markets of NKDA. But the craze seen on opening is still continuing. Even this morning, I found a spiralling queue outside Syndicate Bank in Action Area I of New Town. Two days earlier, I visited Vijaya Bank and met the Manager who recounted how he was mobbed when the application forms ran out. He had to resort to issuing "tokens" in lieu of brochures on the first two days. Now, of course, additional brochures have been printed and there is no shortage - but the craze continues. A photo on my mobile at entrance to Vijaya Bank on the day of my visit a couple of days ago:

Timing changed to 2.30 pm onwards to avoid disturbance to normal customers.
A surprising feature I find is that even educated middle-class people are actively considering owning a shop.An electrical engineer says he wants to set up an appliances store. An NRI says he wants to set up a food shop for operation when he comes back. Shops in the markets are meant for earmarked uses such as medicine shop, stationery shop, sweet shop, restaurant-cum-cafe, gift shop, beauty parlour etc at prices ranging from Rs. 3.78 lakhs onwards. Here is a photo of the brochure cover:

 * * *
Here are a few clippings:
Abp 22.3.14
I requested JLL to highlight
Kolkata's cost benefits
Ei Samay


Monday, March 17, 2014


Almost exactly a year ago, I'd noticed the Asian Cherry Blossoms in New Town. I'd posted a post too (Please see )
A comment from someone who had been staying in Japan for a year indicated that in Japan, Cherry Blossoms are called Sakura.

Here are few pics of Sakura that I took yesterday very near Rabindra Tirtha. Yesterday was Dol. Are Sakuras the equivalent of Palas in Bengal? Who knows?

Sakura=Cherry Blossom=Palas?

* * *
Sale of brochures for shop / stall allotment in three markets in New Town started today. All brochures were sold off in the morning itself. Reprints have been ordered.
For more details, see

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Basanta Utsav 2014

This was the second year of Basanta Utsav in Rabindra Tirtha, New Town. It started at 7 o'clock in the morning. There was considerably more people, and the enthusiasm was palpably more. A retired army officer walked up to me after the event and said that he would not be missing Santiniketan any more. DD Bangla and Tara TV covered the event and will telecast soon.

I uploaded a brief video on YouTube at

Here are few photos:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"Making Rajarhat the most Preferred IT Destination"

I attended, though only for a brief while, a seminar at Hyatt called "Making Rajarhat the most Preferred IT Destination". Chief Executive Officers of various IT companies participated and spoke about the prospects of doing business in Rajarhat.

 In my brief address, I highlighted that the cost of operations in Rajarhat is about 50% less than that in Bangalore and that we needed to focus investors' attention to this. I was happy to hear panelists appreciate the last two years' development in Rajarhat. They seemed to appreciate the clean and smooth roads, the greeneries, the metro being built, the work-life balance opprtunity through Eco Park, closeness to airport and uninterrupted power A picture of the panel through my Samsung mobile:
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Here is an invitation published in today's Anandabazar:

Friday, March 14, 2014

Model Code Matters : Reference through departments

I received a copy of letter number 1031-Home(Elec) dated 5.3.2014 from the office of Chief Electoral Officer, West Bengal regarding observance of Model Code of Conduct. It has circulated the instructions of the Election Commission of India regarding application of MCC.
       We are circulating the instructions to our various subordinate offices.
        I also noted a new provision that clarification on MCC should be sought from CEO through the respective administrative department - and not directly by the other offices. Thus, for example, ADDA or WBHIDCO cannot seek clarifications from CEO directly. In fact for both these organisations, we from Urban Development Department have made a reference to the Chief Electoral Officer recently seeking clarification on two separate specific issues.
* * *
Here is a clipping that appeared in yesterday's Bartaman:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Water Project

Yesterday, I reviewed the progress of the to the Water Treatment Plant water supply project that will bring Hoogly river water to the Water Treatment Plant at New Town. It will supply water not only to New Town but also Salt Lake, Lake Town, Naba Diganta etc. Here is a photo of the ongoing works of the intake jetty:

Photo of intake jetty work from launch
The length of pipeline already laid is 3.8 km. The intake point is 10.4 km away.The diameter of the pipe is 1,829 mm. There will be 63 piles in the intake jetty, of which 45 have been completed till now. I advised the engineers of PHE to consider consulting RITES to expedite few approvals from the Railway Authorities for access near Kolkata Railway Station.
* * *
A World Bank Team led by Dr Genneve Connors went on a launch tour from Botanical Garden to Kasipur Ghat for an inspection of Riverfront Development possibilities. Two clippings from today's newspapers:
The Telegraph dt 12.4.2014
Anandabazar dt 12.4.2014

Monday, March 10, 2014

Pony Ride in Eco Park?

Yesterday, I spotted a cute pony cart outside the Banglar Hat entry of Eco Park. I learnt after talking to the owner that he stays in Dum Dum, that he is doing this to feed his old time horses that have become almost like family to him. He said that he had been trying to get riders in different areas near Dum Dum when a rickshawallah asked him to try Eco Park where lots of people were visiting. I asked Partha Ghosh, our new Curator of Eco Park, to try and see if some arrangement could be worked out for pony rides in the service road of Eco Park. A photo:
Old man and his cart, outside Eco Park
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Last Saturday morning, we released fish seedlings in various water bodies to control mosquito menace. A photo:

Here is a clipping from today's "Ebela":

Khabar 365 dt 9 March 14

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Here is a clipping from today's Khabar 365:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Portal to Finance Hub

On the fourth intersection on the Major Arterial Road to Airport, yet another sculpture is being installed. Finishing touches are being given. This road too leads to the Financial Hub. Here is a picture that I took yesterday:
Mangal 'Ghat' on entrance to Finance Hub
* * *
Mosquitoes are becoming a menace. While NKDA is regularly spraying mosquito repellant oil, this is having limitations. Yesterday, I spoke to S.A,Baba, Fishery Secretary and then met Dr Sailen Biswas, Joint Director of Fisheries to see if certain larva-eating fish can be used to control mosquitoes. I had a long discussion with him and I was careful to listen to his advice that species control is important, that, for example, while Telapia destroys mosquito larvae, since Telapia breeds very fast, there must be Chetal Fish too to control the expansion. I will ask them to make a detailed study soon. Meanwhile, this morning we will release few selected species in the water bodies of New Town to control growth of mosquito larva.
* * *
Here is a clipping from today's Hindustan Times (page 1):

Here is a clipping from yesterday's Salt Lake Telegraph:

Here are a few more clippings that appeared earlier:
Khabar 365 dt 1.3.2014

Bartaman dt 1.3.2014

Bartaman dt 5.3.2014

Ei Samay dt 5.3.2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Three projects

Writing this from Delhi. Attended meeting of Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee at Ministry of UD, Govt of India, Nirman Bhavan. Khalil Ahmed, Commissioner KMC also attended with me. The three projects approved are as follows:-

1. Renewal of Tala Tank.
The Tala Tank is an iconic structure in North Kolkata (I know since in my school days, I stayed close by). It has a capacity of 41 million litres (9 mgd). It is more than a 100 years old, commissioned in 1911, but is still providing service to an estimated 36 lakh population. Its area is 98m x 98m, depth is 5.5m. Due to ageing, some deformation is happening, some leakages are also noticed. Even today at CSMC, technical experts termed this as a unique project. The approved project cost is Rs. 67.81 crores. Project will be executed by KMC.

2. Uluberia Water Supply Scheme
Earlier, under JnNURM, a 10 mgd water treatment plant was commissioned at Uluberia. This however was not sufficient to meet the local demand. To increase its capacity to 18 mgd, this project was posed under JnNURM. Project cost is Rs 46 crores. The implementing agency will be KMWSAA.

3. Solid Waste Management with Compactors
This project is based on the experience gained in a pilot project using 16 compactors. The present project envisages 163 stationary compactors and 200 movable compactors. There will be a compost plants, transfer stations and modern mechanical transporters. The project will use 20 acres of land in New Town that has been recently earmarked for the project. KMC will implement. Project Cost is Rs. 153 crores.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bird and Butterfly Watching

PUBLIC, the NGO of Ms Banani Kakkar, is organising weekend bird watching at Eco Park. I attended yesterday the Sunday session on the tier near gate 3. A photo:
Bird Watching Group on Sunday 2nd March 14
Weekend demonstrations in Butterfly Garden are also ready to start. I released a butterfly. A photo:

Inside the Butterfly Dome:
Releasing a young butterfly
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Here is a cutting from yesterday's Bartaman:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

User Friendly Footpaths

The UD Department, Govt of West Bengal, in their approval no. 610-UD dated 26.2.2014 accorded approval to a project of upgradation and Mastic Asphalting in the following road of Salt Lake:
Tank 12 - RBI Housing (via KB-KC Broadway) - Tank 13 - Labony - EM by pass.
The approved cost is Rs.8.95 crores.
The work will be executed by Special Engineer & CEA, UD Department. This was decided in a meeting with Bidhannagar Municipality some time ago.
Last week, I reviewed the matter with Mr Tejen Som, Special Engineer. I requested him to also look at the footpaths to make them user friendly to all sections of pedestrians, including the physically challenged ones who use wheel-chairs*. I also talked to Prof T.N. Chatterjee of IIT Kharagpur to help Mr Som. He is expected to have a consultation later this month.
* * *
I reviewed the progress of Nazrul Tirtha in Action Area I of New Town last Thursday. The engineers of Hidco and Sapoorji Pallonji are doing as best as they can. Erecting the roof was now the major task remaining to be done in March. We also finalised the design of seats in the auditorium and the nature of acoustics. A group photo taken soon after the visit:
Nazrul Tirtha on 27th Feb 2014
 * * *
Here is a cutting from today's Anandabazar:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

"Cabin" View

Sudhir Krishna, IAS, Secretary to Govrnment of India, Ministry of Urban Development, visited Kolkata today. He took a ride on an AC Tram from Maidan to Shyambazar and then via Metro to Park Street. On the Metro, I shared the "cabin" with Sudhir Krishna, Alapan Bandyopadhyay, Jayanta Saha and the driver of the Metro Train. I saw how a light remains on if any of the doors remain open (the train won't move either) and how the maximum speed is maintained strictly below 55 kmph. The average speed, considering the stops and consequent slowing down, is about 35 kmph, I was told. A photo from the cabin in my mobile phone:

Driver's Cabin of Metro

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Yesterday, the agency entrusted to build the Sculpture Garden in Eco Park started the work yesterday. It is located near the bamboo garden / rain forest, on one acre of land. The concept was announced in the inauguration of the sculpture workshop a year back where Minister Firhad Hakim, Suvaprasanna and participating sculptors were present. The concept and design is by Suvaprasanna. The architecture and construction designs are by P.R.Das. I have seen the 3D model and I think it will be quite stunning.
A photo taken yesterday:
Sculpture Garden starts on 28.2.2014
 * * *
The 3-day long Senior Citizen Mela was inaugurated yesterday by Dr Sukumar Mukherjee. A photo:
Dr Sukumar Mukherjee lighting the lamp:
Minister Firhad Hakim visited in the evening
* * *
Here is an announcement regarding stalls and shop application:
 * * *
Here is a clipping from Salt Lake Telegraph of 27th Feb 2014: