Saturday, October 31, 2015

Jambudwip "Nature Walk"

This was my second visit to Bakkhali in the recent past. Both visits relate to starting Jambudwip "Nature Walk" tourism from November 2015. The idea is that tourists can get tickets from Bakkhali Tourist Lodge and assemble at Frasergunge Harbour where there will be a Sundarini Kiosk and a Helpdesk with pay and use toilet. A WBSTC vessel would take them under the guidance of trained forest guides. At the island, rare migratory birds, sea birds, red crabs and mangroves can be photographed. The visit would be extenrted to Gangasagar on Sundays.

 Today, PCCF (Wildlife) Mr Shukla, Raju Das CEO Eco Tourism Advisory Board, DFO South 24 bPraganas (Ms Tripti Saha), Mr Dhiraj Dhar, Spl Engineer UD, SDPO Kakdwip, IC Namkhana, EO GBDA Arghy Ghosh, SFDC, Dy Secy Tourism, GM WBTDC, Sabhapati Namkhana, ADM South 24 Paraganas, Director Sunderbans Biosphere and others joined us in the meeting at Bakkhali and then to Jambudwip by speed boat of Coastal Police.
A picture:
At Frasergunge Harbour, Bakkhali
Times of India dt 31 Oct 2015

Ajkal dt 31 Oct 2015

Khabar 365 dt 31 Oct 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

Innovative Smartness

In the two meets with NASSCOM (yesterday) and CII (today), I made a few points to the technological community:
1. Smart real-time data collection is important. (there is no baseline data like water availability in terms of lpcd, air quality data, traffic data, accident data, citizen data etc in most ULBs)
2. Sustainability of smart solutions must be ensured by training accorded to municipal staff
3. Hard core infrastructure cannot be funded in smart city framework: only the technical layer involving ICT would mostly be encouraged.
4. Innovative-ness would be a key; the famed Indian 'juggad' must be kindled
5. Predictive solutions (maintenance alerts, waterlogging alerts etc) would be the way to look up to.
6. Citizen consultation and leadership are very important
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Pratidin dt 30 Oct 2015

Khabar 365 dt 30 Oct 2015

Ei Samay dt 30 Oct 2015

Salt Lake Telegraph dt 30 Oct 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Outdoor Arena of Cafe Ekante

Cafe Ekante already runs the fine dining at Eco Island, caters to 22 Ekante Cottages, runs extension counters at Ekante Jetty, Najrul Tirtha and Seniors' Park. Now, to cope with rising demand, extra seats are being arranged on the lawns of Eco Island. A photo:

Chair/ tables look like cane-made put
are of plastic fibres
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Bartaman dt 28 Oct 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Console / Mobile Gaming on Eco Park

We have already done a 360 degree virtual tour of Cafe Ekante (click / see  360_EcoIsland ).

 We have also launched mobile apps "Smart City New Town" (click  see ).

Now we are planning to design a console-based and also mobile based game that will be based  on Eco Park. Here people will be able to do boat racing (in cyberworld on their X Boxes/ Play Stations/ Smart Phones) on the lake water of eco park or do strategy games for angling or creating new attractions or do a treasure hunt or even engage in a war with a fictitious enemy. Both single player and multiplayer options will be done.

This afternoon, I plan to hold a discussion with an expert professional at the Eco Park Conference Room and set the ball rolling.
* * *

Asian Age dt 27 Oct 15

Ei Samay dt 27 Oct 2015

ToI dt 27 Oct 2015

Khabar 365 dt 27 Oct 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

Handholding for Smart Cities and Theme Cities

On Thursday (29th Oct), we will hold a workshop with NASSCOM. All four smart cities of the state (New Town, Bidhannagar, Durgapur and Haldia) would participate. This would be held at Utsari Glass Hall in Eco Park. NASSCOM has already brought out, jointly with Accenture, a comprehensive book outlining possible uses of ICT in various sectors of city development from power to water supply. Now they are helping selected states in bringing experts and stakeholders together. Mr Manojit Bose of NASSCOM's Smart City Vertical has already held a detailed discussion with me. We are expecting a fair turnout of experts on Thursday meet (see for more details)

On Friday 30th, we will hold a seminar with CII. Here too all four smart cities would participate. We have discussed with their National Mission on Smart Cities and we expect good support from the experts that they would bring in. The seminar will be held at CII Suresh Neotia Centre of Excellence for Leadership, Bidhannagar. CII is supporting some other states too.

We are getting positive results in getting support of various chambers of commerce. AmCham India has shown positive interest in the Smart Cities as well as Theme Cities. Some have agreed to act as Hand-holding Agencies in the matter of specific theme cities. All such support is purely honorary on a pro-bono basis. Some example: FICCI  for the theme city on Health and Education (Siliguri), BCCI for Analytics City (Kalyani), CII for Industrial City (Asansol), CREDAI for Wellness and Senior Living (Baruipur) etc.

Indeed, networking is expected to help both the investor/service-provider and the city /citizen.

* * *

Asian Age dt 26 Oct 2015

Khabar 365 dt 26 Oct 2015

Ei Samay dt 26 Oct 2015

Ajkaal dt 26 Oct 2015

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ice Skating


The Statesman dt 20 Oct 2015
Khabar 365 dt 20 Oct 2015


Today was the second and last day of bsarjan. Arrangements at Bisarjan Ghat was great, with high mast lights, sound of sanai and dhaks, multiple puja committees doing dhunuchi dance and everything going on fine like a well orchestrated event. This time we didn't build any pandel and used the almost-complete Upasana-griha as the gallery for observing the proceedings. A photo:
Upasanagriha, Bisarjan Day
Photo courtesy Jahid Khan
A view from the dais:
Dhunuchi Dance at Upasana-sthal
* * *
I came to know that a Wax Statue was used as Durga in a community puja in Kolkata. I spoke to Suman Neogy, GM, Hidco in the morning and the puja organisers Netaji Jatiya Seadal agreed to keep their idol in Mother's Wax Museum. I decided to install it at the dais near the ticket counter on 6th Floor. The lift could not be used as the size was too large. It was carried up using the staircase. A photo

Durga in Wax
  * * *
Clippings from Khabar 365 dt 25 Oct 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Smart Public Spaces

The first rotary near Nazrul Tirtha has a triangular raised platform which is emerging as an adda zone, a public space where evenings are a good time to network with friends. The lush green lawn and the busy traffic nearby offer a contrasting distraction to companionship. I'd noticed this and erected a back-lit billboard on Ekante Island at the reverse side of Nazrul Tirtha Bus Shelter. Now we just added free Wi Fi, a smart-city white board and a dozen or so wooden reciling chairs with colourful canvases that is proving to be a great hit. The two volunteers sitting nearby below a garden umbrella told me that the colourful easy chairs were very popular addition as street / park furniture an was leading people to ponder about Smart City New Town. Two pictures taken today:

* * *
The Ice Skating rink was inaugurated today.The artificial ice is imported from Switzerland and a Swiss representative flew in. Mr Viktor Meir of Glice Eco Skating Rink informed me that this was the first such use of Eco Rink in India while this was proving to be more annd more popular in the West. In fact, I too recalled that I'd seen such an Eco Rink in France last December.

Two camera crew from Google TV too flew in and took videos. I even signed a form declaring that I won't have copyright issues if they showed me on TV.

With my ice skates on, I spoke in the rink to Mr Viktor Meir of
of Switzerland

* * *
Times of India dt 19 Oct 2015

Ei Samay dt 19 Oct 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

City Level Rain Water Harvesting and Water Recycling: Workshop

We often talk of taking steps to harvest rainwater (by tapping rainwater on roofs o store at ground level plastic tanks and pumping up back to roof)  or recycling grey water (using double plumbing to recycle toilet water to flush further  for flushing, washing or gardening) at the house scale.

For a planned town like New Town, it may be possible to scale up both activities to the city level.

The entire New Town has a network of box drains for draining off rain water from roads. These converge ultimately to a canal (like the link canal or pass-khal in Action Area 1, for example) and a Drainage Pumping Station (DPS) pumps out the water to the Bagjola Canal of Irrigation Department that ultimately takes it to the sea. The possibility I'm asking my engineers and planners to explore is as follows: can the DPS send the water to the nearby Tarulia raw water reservoirs where water from the 6ft pipes from Hoogly river will be brought in? In that case, we will save ourselves the cost and energy needed to pump in water from a 11 km distant source. We will also be able to supply additional water into the distribution channels.

For waste water too, there are Sewage Treatment Pumps (STPs) all over various locations of New Town. After treatment, the waste water is pumped out to bheries or canals. There is the possibility of using the treated water, with a second stage purification, to use for gardening (think of water needs of plants of Eco Park/ tea garden/ chilren's parks, greenery on medians) or in community toilets (think of Pay & Use toilets at Eco Park / Rabindra Tirtha/ Convention Centre etc) for flushing and washing.

I have advised Mr Debashis Banerjee, EE PHED to make out a basic concept note / discussion paper within the month. Thereafter we can have a technical discussion involving engineers, planners and experts.

* * *
Khabar 365 dt 18 Oct 2015

Anandabazar dt 18 Oct 2015

Abz dt 18 Oct 2015
Bartaman dt 18 Oct 2015
Asian Age dt 18 Oct 2015

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Motor Vehicles of New Town to be Registered at Salt Lake from 2nd November 2015

In terms of a notification just issued bearing no 3902-WT/3M-51/2010 dated 15.10.2015 it has been agreed by Transport Department, on the request of NKDA, that vehicles of New Town should be registered in PVD office at Salt Lake rather than in Barasat. with effect from 2nd November 2015. This was a long-standing demand of the residents of New Town.

Today, an Expression of Interest has been published for procurement of three electric buses for New Town. The link is
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Pratidin dt 17 Oct 2015

Khabar 365 dt 17 Oct 2015

Khabar 365 dt 17 Oct 2015

ToI dt 17 Oct 2015

Bartaman dt 17 Oct 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

Convergence Meeting for four smart cities: 911 of Kolkata?

This morning, we had a meeting of all four Smart Cities with different departments to ensure convergence of initiatives. Senior officers of Home, Health, Transport, Power, IT, Webel, CII, Nasscom and Consultants attended. Mission Director Sutanu Kar and Ms Shivani Raina, ADCP Bidhannagar were also there. We requested write-ups by first week of November of Departmental activities on these four smart cities on smart solutions under Digital India, Megacity (Safe City) Programme, National Urban Health Mission, m-Governance, urban mobility, Solar City, Intelligent Transport Systems and other Central / State Govt schemes. We were told of different initiatives in citizen centric activities such as call-an-ambulance,  complaint-to-police or call to fire brigade etc and decided that a common control and command room system would be required so that in times of emergency like car-crash-with-fire, all agencies can move with speed and accuracy, somewhat like the 911 system of USA.

We also discussed about city-wide wi-fi systems with free wi fi in public hot spots in a PPP mode.
* * *
A Ficci-FLO (Ficci Ladies' Organisation) meet was held in Utsari Glass Hall this afternoon. Members toured Eco Park and discussed how they can associate with Smart City activities of New Town. A photo:

Smart City discussions in New Town with FLO members
16 Oct 2015
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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Free Wi Fi during Pujas

We decided today to give free Wi Fi during 19-22 Oct (Sashthi to Dasami) at Golf Putting Court  near Gate no 6 of Eco Park and at First Rotary (near Eastern High) (Up to 1 GB). At first rotary, there will be a smart camp too.
* * *

ET Bangalore dt 14 Oct 2015

Times of India dt 14 Oct 2015

ToI dt 13 Oct 2015

Khabar 365 dt 13 Oct 2015

Khabar 365 dt 14 Oct 2015

Ei Samay dt 14 Oct 2015