Saturday, April 30, 2016

Planning for New Jaigaon at Jaigaon

Meeting at Jaigaon on 26th April.
Last Tuesday, at Jaigaon Development Authority Office, I had a detailed meeting to review the progress of preparation of New Jaigaon by consultants HUDCO. District Magistrate Alipurduar, Chief Engineer PWD, Project Director Asian Highway Project, Additional Engineer Railways and others were present. PHED has prepared a Rs 92 crore water supply project report. HUDCO has done preliminary surveys, Asian Highway has finalised its alignment and railways were agreeable to extend railway link to Bhutan border provided alignment through tea gardens are obtainable. I advised HUDCO to start making master plans in Gopimohan tea estate land  where the government has got free land.
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Last Monday (25th April), Chief Engineer HIDCO Mr N Saha went to Delhi and received prize from HUDCO for excellence in landscape design for Eco Park.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Yoga Sessions at UpasanasthalUpasanasthl

Upasansthal in Action Area 1D
Every weekend, for almost the last three months. free yoga classes are imparted to New Town residents. Sessions start at six am on Saturdays and Sundays. An average of 50-60 persons attend these classes (yesterday, Sunday, it was 49, for instance). The Yoga instructor is Ms Aditi De who is a New Town resident herself. Our estimate is that the number of persons attending the classes will be more than 1,000 by the time the three month period expires in mid May.
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(Above and below) Times f India dt 25 April 2016

Ei Samay dt 24 April 2016 (Edited)
Salt LakeTelegraph  dt
22 April 2016 (edited)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day: Khoai in Santiniketan

Khoai in Shantiniketan
(Picture from web)
Today is Earth Day. I had a meeting with Chief Town Planner and others this morning regarding the analysis on Khoai at Sriniketan Shantiniketan Planning Area that has been prepared by Department of Architecture and Town Planning of IIT Kharagpur. The issue revolves around defining Khoai properly for its conservation. The difficulty was that traditional land records do not have any classification called Khoai and so it can be difficult to identify requests for development by developers on land belonging to them but needed to be conserved - like, for example, water bodies cannot be filled up or destroyed even if it belongs to a private person and this is easy to monitor as land classification would show that it was a water body. The IIT Team, with a great deal of diligence that invokes geology, physiography, hydrology, pedology, vegetation etc, has just given a basic document that defines Khoai and then identifies 127 plots  (area 973 acres) in the mouzas of Ballavpur, Benuria, Kobimohanpur, Goalpara and Surul which comprise of Khoai land that needs to be conserved. In their recommendation, the IIT report has suggested that these eco-sensitive Khoai areas should be designated as "no development zone". Necessary action is being taken for statutory draft notification under the West Bengal Town and Country (Planning and Development) Act 1979.
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Here is an extract from the report by IIT:
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Khoai area becomes an ecologically sensitive area because of its diverse landscape, soil-scape, wildlife and historical value. This area already has many desirable ecological, cultural, historical and environmental attributes. These attributes contribute to the retention and creation of wildlife habitat, soil stability, water retention or recharge, vegetative cover and similar vital ecological functions. The micro-ecosystem of Khoai has ability to cope with environmental stresses – stresses like various human induced developments and their impacts; future impacts due to climate change; essentially the ecological resilience. The Khoai not only have ecological importance but also it has a lot of historical, cultural and economic importance as it has relation with Nobel Laureates, painters, artists, writers and many scholars. As a tourist attraction, it also has economic importance. The importance of this area may be assessed by taking all available ecological and cultural attributes into account.

 Khoai‘ word is derived from the Sanskrit ‗kshaya‘, meaning depleted/degenerated/ disfigured/denuded). It was used by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. He has used this word many of his literary works. Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, father of Rabindranath Tagore found solace and serenity in this barren land and purchased a land to build a house. This house was built in the early 1860s, and named Santiniketan which later denoted the entire area. A beautiful garden was laid out on all sides of the house. The top-layer of gritty dry soil was removed and filled with rich soil brought from outside and trees were planted for fruit and shade. Change in the environment had begun. In 1901, Rabindranath started his Brahmacharya Asrama, "flanked by Sal Avenue on the south and Madhavi creepers canopy covering the entrance gate. To the east was an orchard of mango trees and to the west were a few Palmyra palms, jamun, casuarina and some coconut trees. On the north-western outskirt of the old Asrama were the two ancient Chhatim trees. This was the area which held the ‗ Khoai‘ lands. In the mid-fifties, to prevent further erosion of the Khoai, soil embankments were raised which thereby created little lakes of moderate size. The bending of the Mayurakshi River some distance on the north-west brought Santiniketan, a branch of an irrigation canal which lead to the greening of Khoai and brought about significant changes in the environment. An extensive forest was later created where deer graze. This land of Khoai has become immortalized by the writings of Tagore and the paintings of Ram Kinkar Baij and Nandalal Bose.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

AV by Roopkala Kendra

Roopkala Kendra has been requested to make a 5-7 minute audio-visual film on New Town. This will be shown to persons who are yet to move in to New Town although possession has been taken over. The goal would be to explain the advantages of staying in New Town. The date of the event will be decided after the elections. I had a discussion on the script recently and have agreed to let the director use our drones for shooting when required.
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Khabar 365 dt 21 April 2016

Monday, April 18, 2016

Highest Footfall in Nazrul Tirtha

Yesterday, Sunday 117th April, saw the highest ever footfall in Nazrul Tirtha. A total of 1,465 persons saw the movies "Shankhacheel" and "Fan". There were 5 shows, the first starting at 10.30 am.
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Last Thursday, on Poila Baisakh (14 April 2016), we had a discusion on "New Horizons in Bengali Cinema". Aninda Chattopadhyay, Barun Chanda and Mahua halder participated in a lively discussion where Anidya Chattopadhyay also sang a song on my request. This was followed by a film "Open T Bioscope". Aam Pora Sarbat was offered to all invitees.

Mahua Halder, Barun Chanda,
Anindya Chattopadhyay & me: 14 April, Nazrul Tirtha

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Times of India dt 18 April 2016

Khabar 365 dt 18 April 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016

New Town Business Club: Swimming

Installation near Swimming Pool of Business Club
Ever since its opening on 1 April, the swimming pools in the Business Club has been very successful. Already more than 1,000 children and adults have participated (counting one session of one person as a unit). We are getting many requests from many but we have said that membership is closed for this season. Yesterday, I too took a quick swim and saw the outdoor chess istallation.
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Hindustan Times dt 17 April 2016

Saturday, April 16, 2016

One Stop Shop : Concept Note

Last Tuesday, we had a brainstorming session with NASSCOM (Kamal Agarwal, Nirupam Chowdhury), VC Amity University (Dhrubajyoti Chattopadhyay), Prof IIEST (M K Sanyal) / WBUT, MD WBEIDC, SS IT, I-Win, NKDA, PHED etc to make a concept note for a One Stop Shop in New Town. The brief concept is as follows:

An affordable One Stop Shop is for and helping incubate talent and start-ups. This facility is being proposed in New Town under its Smart Cities programme.
The proposed One Stop Shop facility for New Town seeks
1. to provide facilities at very affordable costs (at 10% of prevailing rates).
2. to cater to Biotech, Agriculture and e-Commerce, Chip design, and consulting services in addition to IT.
A five storied structure with about 25,000 sq.ft. of built up space is ready in place at Action Area-I of New Town.  It is proposed to have four floors dedicated to (1) Biotech (2) Agriculture and e-Commerce (3) Hard Chip Design (4) IT where the fifth floor would comprise of Conference Rooms Common Services, Laboratory Services Consultation Rooms, Shared Resources, Business Meet Rooms.  There will also be provision for a laboratory in each floor.  Ground floor coffee shop, ATM etc. would be a rented out to established brands General purpose training classes would be held while specialist practitioners will be allowed to give professional advice on a revenue sharing basis prevalent in health clinics.  An important aspect would be to guide students and young entrepreneurs to access funds from Government of India / State Government and Venture Capitalists (Pvt. Sector).
.  The SPV proposed to be formed under by NKDA under the smart city programme would be running the centre.

Comments have been invited from various stakeholders.
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Hindustan Times dt 16 April 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

Smart Electric Meters: Pilot

Smart Electric Meters are being experimented on a pilot basis in New Town. This morning, I along with MD, New Town Electric Supply Corporation (which is a Joint Venture between WBSEDCL and HIDCO) went to see these meters. The picture above depicts a 3-phase meter in a commercial mall while another one (not in pic) was for a single phase supply for residences. There is a SIM card and through internet cloud, signals are updated every 15 minutes (so that there are 96 slots in a day) when anyone having access to the cloud through an Apps or Web based software can see the energy consumption as it actually happens. So, for example, one can guess how is the consumption for the AC increasing the bill even while it is used. Also, meter readers will not have to come to your house to read the meters and generate bills. At the back end, NTESC can monitor many things such as the faults in a cable or transfer by merely mapping the sudden zero readings. Even before a complaint is logged, therefore, the smart meter based intelligent system can theoretically set in motion the restoration protocol by sending alert SMSes to relevant teams...The pilot scheme is being tried out in AA-1, AA2 and few street lights. The costs are to be borne from the Smart City Project once the pilot phase is successful. The project forms part of the upgraded Smart City Proposal of New Town that will be sent to MoUD, Delhi on 18th April 2016
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Khabar 365 dt 15 April 2016

Khabr 365 dt 15 April 2016

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Houseboat Restaurant

We are soft launching the brand new houseboat restaurant from Poila Boisakh. Took a look around this evening and was amazed by the awesome ambience created. My iPhone camera cannot capture the atmosphere well in the following picture:

We are also having the first film-based theme event at Nazrul Tirtha tomorrow on occasion of Poila Baisakh. A bit of branding and aam pora sharbat for all would be there too.  Here is a banner :

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Khabar 365 dt 13 April 2016

Millennium Post dt 13 April 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

UK Team to Eco Park

Cambridge University brought a group of 19 post graduate students from their Institute for Manufacturing to India and while in Kolkata they visited New Town as a prospective Smart City. After a presentation, they visited Najrul Tirtha, Seniors' Park's e-Health Centre, Mother's Wax Museum and Eco Park / Cafe Ekante. They mentioned that the visit was liked by them a lot and that they would like to know about the progress after five years of the Smart City Project.
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ToI dt 12 April 2016
Asian Age dt 12 April 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

Smart Air Quality Monitoring

Sky view from inside Butterfly Garden
The upgraded smart city proposal of New Town was scrutinized and recommended for submission to MoUD for consideration under Fast Track Smart City approval today by a Committee headed by the Chief Secretary. In course of the discussions it was highlighted that Sustainable Environment would be one of the objectives of the plan and that components such as Solar Power, LED light and Air Quality Monitoring would be included.  In fact, an analysis of the citizen feedback indicates that for 5% of the residents, air quality is an issue. Consequently, sensor based air quality monitoring units would be installed throughout New Town. In addition, proper treatment of Construction and Demolition waste would also be ensured through policy prescriptions. A Rs 50,000 fine has already proposed for inclusion in the rules for certain cases of C&D waste issues.

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Asian Age
dt 11 April 16

ToI dt 11 Ap 2016

Khabar 365 dt 11 April 2016

Anandabazar dt 11 April 16

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Poila Baisakh at Nazrul Tirtha

For the first time, we would try to do some film based themed event at Nazrul Tirtha on Poila Baisakh. Details are being worked out. Am Pora Sarbat, discussions on Bangla Cinema and a special screening is planned. Confirmation from key personalities are being awaited and thereafter I will post details here.
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Khabar 365 dt 10 April 2016

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Safety Audit

The HIDCO Board meeting took place today. The NKDA Board meeting took place yesterday. It was decided that all high rise buildings towering over G+9 floors and all bridges / flyovers of New Town would be subjected to a safety audit.  Meanwhile, engineers of Hidco have already inspected all flyovers / bridges of New Town and submitted a "no abnormality seen" report.
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Khabar 365 dt 9 April 2016

Friday, April 8, 2016

Second hall in Nazrul Tirtha

This morning, we from Hidco and NKDA went to see the progress of work of the second hall of Nazrul Tirtha. This will be in the second floor of the building. I saw the lay out on the floor (see the golden stripes in the picture above) and the manner in which the 100+ seater hall would be developed. The second hall will enable us to show documentaries and other films outside the main commercial stream. Discussions and seminars on films and movies may also be held. This was, we may cater to a wider variety of audience.
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Aajkal dt 8 April 2016

Millennium Post dated 8th April 2016
Salt Lake Telegraph
dt 8 April 2016

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Design Hackathon Output

There is a sculpture garden in the making in Eco Park. This is near the butterfly garden. I proposed the space for a "light sculpture" project to the Hackathon Team that worked on 29-31 March 2016 in New Town. The picture above shows the idea of it. I quite liked it and would take it forward in co-ordination with the Indian Institute of Architects in due course.

Here is a narrative of what happened (edited from an account by IIA; I was not able to be present on 31st March when the outputs were being presented:

"... 29th, 30th and 31st March 2016 – An Urban Design Hackathon with the objective of arriving at design solutions for six locations in the New Town area was organised at Rabindra Tirtha as a collaborative effort by The West Bengal Chapter of Indian Institute of Architects, NKDA and WBHIDCO . Mr.Debashis Sen, Chairman of HIDCO set the tone for the design charrette on the first day by asking all the participants to think out-of-the-box but at the same time urged them to ensure that implementable solutions emerge out of the ideation exercise.
‎     The effort brought together students of architecture, art and design from institutions offering these disciplines in West Bengal. The colleges that participated included Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology Shibpur, Jadavpur University Kolkata, Om Dayal Group of Institutions Uluberia, IIT Kharagpur, Silpa Sadan Santiniketan, and NIFT Kolkata. There were 6 areas of design ideation – a Canal front, a Sensory Park for the physically challenged, Metro pillars and the area in between, a Lighting Sculpture, Streetscapes and Vendor Kiosks. In around 40 hrs of non-stop work eight teams developed design proposals with each team being guided by a young architect as a team mentor. The three days saw different eminent architects and urban designers, graphic and visual artists and technologists spending time with the teams to support the brainstorming. Such coming together and interdisciplinary convergence as a team is indeed unique.
      The intense 40+ hours of brainstorming culminated in a presentation before an august audience including many eminent architects of Kolkata.
This collaborative exercise between professionals of the city and the government bodies could be the beginning of a new model for generating ideas for a better city...."

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Aajkal dt 7 April 2016

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

New Parking Lot near Tata Medical Centre

The new parking lot near Tata Medical Centre is almost ready. we hope to make it operational by 15th April. The parking lot is made by NKDA
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Ei Samay dt 6 April 2016

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Design Review

Ms Erin Walsh from Future City Catapult described how CABE (Council for Built Environment, UK) changed many built forms from 1995 to 2012 or so (when it was wound up at UK) through design reviews. Even waste dumps had been converted into aesthetically interesting bio-methane plants. This was the second day of the workshop at NKDA. I mentioned that we could also start a design review of important projects of New Town by asking professional bodies to participate and engage in discussions. Of course, I'd also like to include digital experts. I asked FCC,UK to think of ways to collaborate.
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Times of India dt 5 April 2016

Monday, April 4, 2016

Intelligent Urban Design

At NKDA, we had a meeting with Future City Catapult (UK), Assocham and officers of Hidco / NKDA. I gave a presentation on the concept paper that has been drawn up after the brainstorming session on 25 Feb 2016. There was general agreement and it was decided to carry on the dialogue in this respect. FCC gave presentation on how predictive infrastructure gaps were being modelled in Manchester (UK), citizen centric digital standards were being passed on to ISO organisation and how open source data was being put up in public domain in Dubai so that digital private experts were drawing up apps for citizen use on their own.

FCC also presented to me formally a hard copy of a "Smart City Roadmap, New Town" (picture above). Here is a snapshot of the meeting held this morning:

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Times of India dt 4 April 2016