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:


  1. It is very true that Rajarhat New Town's location is very strategic (close to airport) and neither Bangalore, nor Hyderabad has such a (reasonably) well planned township with wide roads, landscaped gardens including the massive Eco-park complex, upcoming metro etc. Hopefully after the recent renovation, Kolkata airport will see more international airlines returning to the city connecting directly to Europe, South East Asia and perhaps even North America.

    However, there are some areas where we could make some further improvements to Rajarhat to make it an even better place to live and work -
    1. general cleanliness - reducing debris / dust from construction sites. This can be done by enforcement - ensure that trucks / equipment coming out of construction sites are cleaned by water sprays before hitting public roads.

    2. relocating mushrooming road side eateries/shops into proper food court with basic hygiene / trash disposal, also strong enforcement to prevent the growing menace of public places being occupied by hawkers at random.

    3. increasing pedestrian friendly footpaths (currently almost non-existent) / road crossings (some of these have already been initiated on the MAR), bicycle paths (being planned I believe) and perhaps even a bicycle sharing scheme like the one in Paris.

    4. better local public transport which can connect interior roads of New town with the MAR / major bus stops / upcoming metro stops / shopping centres - this should be taken up by HIDCO as a public service rather than trying to do it through private players which might not find this short distance transport profitable. But it would immensely help the local population, reduce usage of personal vehicles, thereby reducing congestion / pollution etc. in the long run. A single mini bus, or perhaps 2 for each action area, making one circular round every 15-20 minutes could serve this purpose.

    1. Good suggestions.
      1. Road side food/tea stalls needs to be controlled and replaced by economical food courts.
      2. Newtown needs feeder buses to be connected to Newtown Bus stand for better connectivity. In future, once metro is operational, metro stations needs to connected by these feeder buses. We need to reduce the autos in newtown and increase short route buses which will not be so expensive to operate.

    2. I think Mr. Sen also does not want New Town to be full of hawkers. However somethings cannot be done by govt officials, it seems, when there is a strong political patronage by the ruling party.

      Food court was built near DLF1 . However none of the hawkers could be shifted and I think my guess is correct...ruling party does not want that to happen...

    3. I do not think the ruling party as a whole would be opposed to relocating hawkers to designated places. The ruling party opposes forceful takeover of land from farmers in the name of industry by using political goons - which the erstwhile ruling party did and paid for dearly in the last elections.

      What I am proposing here - is providing subsidized public facilities for the hawkers away from pedestrian walkways / major thoroughfares. They are occupying public land anyway, without paying any taxes / fees. So why not spend some public money to provide them alternate cleaner facilities, thereby cleaning up the city too. This would be a win-win situation. But going forward, after the relocation, proper vigil must be kept to ensure that new hawkers cannot re-occupy the freed by space. Strict enforcement is required - because once a space is occupied, getting them out of there is a nightmare.

      The hawker menace is probably one of the largest problems facing new town - the greatest impediment towards it becoming a "world-class" city. The 2nd biggest problem I see is the total lack of local public transport on the interior roads. Cycle rickshaws are the only way to reach the MAR from the interior areas, unless you can walk more than 1 km.

  2. Sir, the government should also take initiatives to reduce road-side shops and syndicate-rule.
    The Electronic City (Bangalore) doesn't have any hawker and it is a no plastic zone. Same goes for Hinjewadi, Pune (very less hawkers).
    Lastly, IT industry is human capital intensive. As IT companies move to NewTown; more and more residents would try to move in there. But there are not enough markets, post office, bank etc.
    I came to India in February and I found that although there is a great deal of improvement, but development seem to concentrate in a few areas only (essentially AA-I). However, housing is getting developed everywhere, without any basic amenities around.

    Please consider the quality of life of people as well. I would be grateful if medicine shops, community markets etc. are constructed quickly. And the vector control initiative needs to pick up pace as well.

    On a side note, the Eco park looked very nice. Looking forward to more such water bodies and parks.

    We are proud of you and your team - NewTown is definitely improved during your leadership; but there is still a lot of work that we all hope would be done.


  3. As far as infrastructure is concerned, it will be great if we can make entire Rajarhat and Sector 5 a Wi-Fi city. This will send a strong signal to the Tech Community about the seriousness of the Govt.

    Also instead of harping only on cost advantage and infrastructure will not take us anywhere unless we do a strong marketing of Rajarhat in Silicon Valley (California) and Bangalore. No CEO on earth has so much interest about West Bengal that he will google and find out about Rajarhat himself.

  4. Every Country / State / Organization has his USP or creates a USP which helps it build a niche segment which is its strength and then capitalize on Opportunities.
    First of all, we have to identify that and then market the USP to the outside world to catch the attention, project ourselve and move on......
    At a time when Cost advantage itself does not create that much value to attract cashrich Organizations and affuelnt serviceclass, we need to figureout something else...

  5. As Cognizant is expanding their campus in Kolkata IT Park Bantala there will be huge traffic increase in Basanti Highway. It is going to happen within next 4-5 months. There is an immediate need of 4-6 lane road which connects New Town to Bantala. Also public transportation needed via New Town to Bantala. Current PWD road which connects Basanti road via Bhojerhat serves very little purpose.
    Sir, do you have any plan for the Basanti Connector?