Wednesday, September 30, 2015

AmCham Roadshow on Smart Cities and Theme Cities

On Monday 5th October, in Delhi,  I and my colleagues will meet the national chapter of AmCham India (American Chamber of Commerce) over breakfast at 8.30am. The topic will be four Smart Cities and six Theme Cities of Bengal.

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Khabar 365 dt 30 Sep 2015

Ei Samay dt 30 Sep 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

9 hole putting course

On 2 October, we are planning to open a 9-hole putting course to give anyone from children to senior citizens a chance to try their hand at golf. There will be a trainer too as well as golf clubs an balls. Call for enrollment is already invited at
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In the first day of the 2-day workshop by FCC, Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra inaugurated the workshop by lighting a lamp. Others present were Mr Stephen Rice, Deputy Head of British Dy High Commission in Kolkata, Mr Jawed Shamin, Commissioner of Police Bidhannagar, Mr Rishikesh Chanda of UKTI, Amy Hochadel, Future Cities Catapult, Global Cities Lead, Rudi Ball, Future Cities Catapult, Innovation Lab Lead, Anja Maerz, Future Cities Catapult, Insights Team Lead, Emma Shaw, Future Cities Catapult, Senior Analyst, Anubhav Ghosh, Burrohappold Engineering, Jim Coleman, Burrohappold Engineering, Deolite, Hidco, NKDA and TCS officers. A photo:

In the afternoon session, the participants were broken up into groups and interacted with local residents drawn from various sections of the society:
Notice the Post Its on the wall

Here is a small AV clip:
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Ei Samay dt 29 Sep 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

FCC Team Arrives

The six-member team from Future Cities Catapult arrived in New Town today. We had preliminary discussions at Cafe Ekante. 2-day workshop starts tomorrow.

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Khabar 365 dt 28 Sep 2015
The Telegraph dt 28 Sep 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Second Apps Launched

In "Smartcity Newtown" Apps available free on Google Play, Android users can now use two apps. The first was made online on Friday 18th Sep when there was a citizen feedback meeting at New Town. Today, in course of the discussions held during Smart Saturday, the second apps was made functional.

First Smart Saturday observed today. Many citizens came and gave their views verbally and in writing. A sample: a) SIM activated help: red button device for senior citizens. In emergency, 3-4 family / friends' mobile will get a recorded distress call; b) New generation bus stop with GPS, air conditioner, washroom and kiosk on PPP basis c) Alternate street light switching off during early dawn and evening d) CCTVs on PPP mode We'll meet next Smart Sat at 4pm (3 Oct) again
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Times of India dt 26 Sep 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Future Gazing

A six-member UK Team from Future Cities Catapult (FCC) will hold a 2-day workshop at New Town Kolkata to handhold it for making its Smart City Plan. An MoU was signed and exchanged between HIDCO and FCC at London when Hon'ble Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led a Govt of West Bengal delegation to London in late July 2015. FCC is a UK Government-backed organisation, helping cities become better places to live. Its Cities Lab, which I and our delegation had visited too, provides data analysis, modelling and visualisation capabilities to understand and elucidate city problems.

A six member team of experts from FCC will arrive in Kolkata on 28th September and will have a tour of New Town and discuss preliminary issues with me and NKDA / HIDCO officers in the afternoon. The 2-day workshop will begin on 29th September (Tuesday) at 10 am at Utsari Glass Hall at Eco Park. The inauguration will be done by Shri Sanjay Mitra, Chief Seecretary. The team members from FCC would be:

Amy Hochadel, Future Cities Catapult, Global Cities Lead
Rudi Ball, Future Cities Catapult, Innovation Lab Lead
Anja Maerz, Future Cities Catapult, Insights Team Lead
Emma Shaw, Future Cities Catapult, Senior Analyst
Anubhav Ghosh, Burrohappold Engineering, FCC India Partner
Jim Coleman, Burrohappold Engineering, FCC India Partner

The boot camp or the 2-day workshop will be called "City Academy" and its primary purpose would be to make New Town understand what is meant by Future Cities, how it can benchmark itself against global competition and perform future-gazing to develop packages based on city specific strategy.

The delegation will continue to work in co-ordination with NKDA and HIDCO using email, web, Skype etc and this phase is expected to continue at least till December 2015.

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Anandabazr dt 24 Sep 2015
Khabar 365 dt 24 Sep 2015
Telegraph dt 24 Sep 2015
Bartaman dt 24 Sep 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Essay Competition

In our evening round-up on smart cities with consultants Deloitte, CEO NKDA and Mission Director (Smart Cities) West Bengal, we decided to hold an essay competition on "What should Smart New Town be like?" among residents of New Town.
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Khabar 365 dt 21 Sep 2015

ToI dt 21 Sep 2015

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Plantation Drive

We are putting plantation in New Town to be a key smart agenda. Last week, in association with Lexmark, an IT company, special plantation took place at Swapna Bhor Seniors' Park: about 50 fruit trees were planted. In association with M/S P C Chanda, 1,000 Neem Tree saplings are being planted in Eco Park (at the ring road on the far end of the lake). Earlier, Hidco allowed several canal-side plots to be used as nurseries to be developed by various groups. With Forest Department, a tall tree nursery and tree bank is being planned in Action Area 1. And yesterday, we took a plantation drive in association with Axis Bank where 100 trees (Chhatim trees) were planted at Rain Forest area of Eco Park. A photo:

Plantation in association with Axis Bank
Eco Park, 19 Sep 2015
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Hindustan Times dt 20 Sep 2015

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Smart Fridays

In the citizen consultation meet of New Town yesterday, I invited IT professionals of New Town, many of whom were already present in the meeting, to meet me and my team on Fridays between 4-6pm at NKDA Conference Hall to give their feedback, suggestions and ideas. Like Bloomberg Philanthropies, we will also observe Fridays as Smart Fridays. We will brainstorm and have free discussions with New Town citizens as well as professional institutions in New Town such as TCS, those in DLF/Unitech/Eco Space IT enclaves to fine tune the Master Smart Cit Plan for New Town.

Yesterday we distributed a brochure outlining the framework of Smart Cities and requested for a feedback in the form (or on-line at ). By next Friday, the first Innovation Friday on Smart New Town.

I was listening carefully to citizen suggestions and I got a sense of what New Town residents wanted in Smart New Town. Some of the first impressions I got were:

1. Should be pedestrian friendly: pavements, traffic signals, car parking plazas, underpasses with escalators and no stray dogs.
2. Should have clean air: more green plantation, control on auto emission, focus on construction material management, street food waste and fume management.
3. Inclusive information sharing: Many said that while IT-enabled information dissemination through social media, web, mobile apps were okay, there were many especially among the seniors who feel visual outdoor displays in public places were necessary. I talked about FM Radio and old fashioned wall magazines near bus stands.

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Here is a clipping:

Khabar 365 dt 19 Sep 2015

Smart City: Citizen Consultation for New Town

At the Citizen Consultation meet at NKDA office this afternoon, we released a brochure with a feedback form for citizens. We also launched the Smart Phone Application today. This is called Smart City New Town. It is available free at Google Play. It will soon be available in App Store of Apple too. There will be six functions: for today, the "Places of Interest" apps was demonstrated at the meeting through a short power-point presentation.

There was a citizen interaction after brief speeches.

Citizen meet at 1, BBS

Monday, September 14, 2015

Road Show at Mumbai

At the FICCI organised Road Show at Mumbai, I showed the 5-minute video on the Six Theme Green Cities on Govt land (Siliguri, Shantiniketan, Baruipr, Kalyani, Asansol and Howrah). Hon'ble Finance Minister, Dr Amit Mitra liked the video and indicated that a similar one would be made by the Industries Department too. I also talked of the Financial and Legal Hub in New Town. There were many suggestions. One of them related to involving the family, the women in the family, to build up a supportive environment that can change the mind set of the people, that can change the perception based on real facts. In Smart City programme, where citizen engagement is a key theme, I think that I will take this suggestion and involve various ladies' group.

(Top and below) Roadshow at Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai
on 14 Sep 2015

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Times of India dt 14 Sep 2015
(Top and below)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fresh Vegetables from Farmers

The NKDA Board met on Friday 11 September. It approved a proposal to allot three vegetable stalls to Farmers' Co-operatives in a market of New Town at concessional rates. The idea is to allow farmers themselves, through their cooperatives or Self Help Groups, to sell fresh vegetables directly in the retail market without going through any wholesaler. The stalls will be allotted in NKDA market at AA-1C. Two vegetable stalls will be allotted to Dharampur SKUS of North 24-Paraganas while one will be allotted to Baruipur Thana Large Sized Co-operative of South 24-Paraganas district. This will be a win-win situation as New Town citizens can have farm fresh vegetables from neighbouring farms while growers can access the retail market easily and affordably.
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Anandabazr dt 13 Sep 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Eastern Regional Smart City Mission at Najrul Tirtha

Key highlights:
1. Everybody expressed satisfaction at the professional level administrative and protocol arrangements. I thanked Sutanu Kar, Debjani Datta, Debapriya Biswas, Madhusudan Mukherjee, Arup Ghosh, Samir Bagchi, Anup Motilal, Subhankar Datta, Tirtha Datta, Arjun Datta, Krittibas Nayek, Kalyan Sen, Sanjit Sharma, Subhasis Gupta, Debolina Sengupta, Dipak Gupta, Anumita Mohanty, Sandhatara and all the other officers and staff  of UD , Hidco and NKDA.
2. Tight datelines, seriousness of citizen engagements, "Ideas Camp" at 6-7 October 2015 and draft plan online by mid November 2015.
3. My Gov, Bloomsberg Philanthophies, Auroville gave case studies and practical examples
4. National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), Mission Director and Economic Advisor explained Ministry guidelines
5. World Bank, UN-Habitat and others gave inputs
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(Top and Bottom)
Inauguration of Smart City Meet on 12 Sep 2015

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(Top and Bottom)
Ei Samay dt 12 Sep 2015

Times of India dt 12 Sep 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

Bastar Gate

A unique "Bastar Gate" is just installed in Gate 4 of Eco Park. The motif and craftsmanship is done by tribals of Bastar: I'd seen a sample at Raipur Urja Park. The tribals use locally available iron ore (called "Ghana") to extract the material used to make the gate. The figures and models are developed and designed by the tribals only. I photo I took yesterday:

Exquisite tribal gate at Eco Park, Gate 4
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Here is a clipping:
Salt Lake Telegraph dt 11 Sep 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bakkhali Development

In order to make Bakkhali a great tourist destination, the Gangasagar Bakkhali Development Authority was formed a year ago. I visited Bakkhali yesterday with Arghya Ghosh, Executive Officer GBDA. We decided to make long term and short term plans for planned tourism infrastructure. I went to Jammudwip too on a police speed-boat. I observed that GBDA had already done few works. Some were:
1. Construction of benches with sheds on roadside and beach. I saw that many were being used by tourists.
2. The approach to the beach was tastefully paved and a fountain installed.
3. Roadside lights were installed.
4. A Land Use Plan preparation had started
5. An office building of GBDA had started

We decided to do the following:
1. Develop the wooden location near Bonobibi temple into a tourist day care zone
2. Construct Pay & Use Toilets are few places
3. Extend the nature trail near Forest Park
4. Survey the bus stand and market area so as to redevelop the area
5. Erect three high mast lights for illumination and seurity
6. Make a bus parking zone
7. Make a Children's Park
8. Decorate street stalls innovatively
9. Rent out an office space of Tourist Lodge for GBDA Camp Office
10. Make a jetty at Jammudip
11.  Hire a launch, redecorate it and start eco trail services to Jammudip by October 2015 (target)
12. Improve roads to Frasergunj Harbour
13. Renovate the helipad near Frasergunj
14. Advise Special Engineer of UD at Kolkatata to visit Jammudip by this month and make a DPR for a Jetty at Jammudip
15. Adopt beach beautification programme designs of World Bank Aided ICZM project now being undertaken at Digha
16. Hold a meeting with PCCF and other Forest Officers on 16th Sep at Kolkata regarding Jammudip Eco Trail

With Arghya Ghosh, EO GBDA:
on way to Jammudip from Frasergunge
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Two clippings:
Times of India dt 9 Sep 2015
Abz dt 8 Sep 2015

Monday, September 7, 2015

Roadshows in Delhi

In the morning today, there was an interactive breakfast meeting with AmCham. Led by Hon'ble FM Dr Amit Mitra, the Govt of West Bengal side was represented by Pr Secy C&I, MD WBIDC and me. Resident Commissioner was also there. There were a lot of queries on smart cities and green theme cities. A workshop at Kolkata and a meet at Bangalore was discussed.

At Ficci House in Delhi, a roadshow was held on a larger scale. I mentioned about our 4 smart cities, 6 green theme cities and Financial Hub. In course of the meet, before and after the main event, I networked with a UK based Public Cycle Consultant, a noted Hospital group linked to US and a feeler was received that FICCI could handhold us for our Shantiniketan CultureThemed Green Township.
ToI dt 7 Sep 2015

Ei Samay dt 7 Sep 2015
Times of India dt 7 Sep 2015

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Tall Tree Nursery

Earlier this year, we had a workshop on tall tree transplantation. The idea was to raise consciousness on transplanting trees elsewhere instead of cutting trees if in the interest of development projects some trees had to be removed. Since then, a few tall trees in Street 787 (in front of Gate 4 of Eco Park) and at Deer Park site (near Amphitheatre )  have been actually transplanted.

Last year, we started a Tree Bank where ethnic trees of the state were planted for nurturing and for live models for benefit of future citizens.

Now, near the spot of Tree Bank, opposite Upasanathal in Action Area 1 (close to New Town Police Station) a Tall Tree Nursery will be set up. This decision was taken at the last meeting of Hidco Board based on a request from West Bengal Wasteland Development Corporation (a State Govt Forest Department Undertaking). They wanted a 5 acre site close to the Tree Bank Site. They also agreed to look after maintenance and upkeep of the Tree Bank.

We have agreed to let them use 5 acres of land for Tall Tree Nursery on a profit sharing basis. They have already started making a Detailed Project Report

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Times of India dt 6 September 2015
The Statesman dt 5 Sep 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015

Railway Permission

For the 100 mgd water supply project, railway permission to place 6ft diameter pipes under the circular railway lines near Debendra Bala Ghat in Bgbazar, Kolkata was required. We got the permission today after the issue was raised in a meeting by Hon'ble CM with Hon'ble Railway  Minister. Here is a copy sent to me by Debashis Banerjee, EE PHED through WhatsApp:

I along with a host of Engineers visited the intake jetty and was pleased to find much progress in the massive intake jetty. A pic:

The only job required to be done is a 240 m underground tunneling which will now start - now that the railway permission has been obtained. A deep underground pit has been dug and the hydraulic jack system will start pushing from Monday to connect to the last bit. A pic:

I expect that the trial run where the first water will reach New Town water treatment plant at Action Area 1 before the Pujas.
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Here are few clippings :

Ei Samay dt 4 Sep 2015
Here are a few clippings from Salt Lake Telegraph of today (4 Sep 2015):