Monday, April 30, 2018

Smart Street Railing

The familiar green bamboo railings of New Town are a familiar sight. The design of the railings are tweaked from time to time at the times of annual maintenance. The railings serve several purposes like protecting the street median plantations and preventing pedestrians from crossing the streets indiscriminately.
Of late, the traffic police has requested that since these bamboo railings are easily damaged and are easily uprooted if forced, especially in areas where pedestrians have a tendency to cross wide streets at prohibited zones, permanent steel fencing could be arranged in suitable phases.
That set us on a design think process. I was looking at several options that would reflect the character of New Town, with its Wi Fi and OFC networks, smart water networks and tall buildings and metro railways. I had several rounds of discussions with Abin Choudhury, the architect founder of  "Kolkata Architecture Foundation" (KAF), who readily agreed to join me and help develop a smart urban railing for streets of New Town.
Here is the design:
Design of Futuristic Street Railing of New Town: Courtesy KAF
(Note the simulation of tall buildings and coloured squares representing closed networks)
A prototype is being built at the roundabout near Eco Space / Gitanjali Park of TCS. We will further refine once fully implemented and then roll out in other areas in consultation with traffic police. Here is the photo, taken today, painting yet to be done:

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Artificial Intelligence in New Town

A one day Knowledge Exchange workshop on AI will be held on 18 May 2018 at Biswa Bangla Convention Centre at New Town. Dr P P Chakraborty, Director IIT Kharagpur will deliver the keynote address. Hon'ble MIC (IT&E) will inaugurate. Topics covered will be AI in Business, AI in Governance, AI in Industry (Industry 4.0), Deep Learning and a panel discussion on Capacity Building. Speakers will come from - besides IIT Kgp - ISI, PwC, Wipro, IBM and others. Although the workshop day is two weeks away, all 400 seats are already full by online applications and , on popular request, a wait-listing mechanism is also introduced. ( see AI Registration )We will evaluate the situation next week to see if we should go for a larger hall in BBCC.

With PRM Fincon Team at The Terminus, New Town yesterday (28 April 2018)
To understand actual use case developments of AI in Bengal, I went to the workspace of PRM Fincon yesterday ( ). This is located at 4th floor of the building where Pride Hotel is located: the building is called The Terminus. Mr Prithwiraj Mukherjee, CEO (in full sleeved white shirt to the left of me in the photo above) and his team gave me a longish demonstration of what they do.

Basically, they use AI to analyse risk profile of companies and thus advise investors to invest wisely. In addition, they use AI together with IoT to predict possible failures in heavy industrial machines so that timely corrections can be taken and thus reduce idle time (upto 30%, they said, in respect of a use case in an Australian coal mine). They use recurrent neural networks with back propagation and LSTM (Long Short Term Memory).

I also found that they are working on video analytics and their laboratory level prototype is already able to use AI (based on Python code) to analyse CCTV feeds to flag if vehicles were crossing lanes and if a two-wheeler rider is wearing a helmet or not and  whether it is a soft cap or a proper hard helmet. I thought this would be a great case to improve the road safety in accordance with Hon'ble CM's "Safe Drive, Save Life" campaign and I asked Mr Mukherjee to see if this could be developed further and used in New Town's CCTVs in a pilot use case.

I also invited Mr Pritwiraj Mukherjee to talk very briefly about the coal drilling machine use case on the 18th Workshop.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Avenue Plantation

Recently we decided to change our plantation strategy for New Town a bit.
Earlier, we concentrated on large areas of plantation, whenever space for greening was available. This included broad road medians near Eco Space, near Eco Urban Village and also other planned green areas in all nooks and corners. Last year, during monsoons, we planted 65,000 trees. The year before, 50,000 trees.
This year we have decided to concentrate on replacement of saplings on existing green zones which have nor survived. A survey is being done by forest directorate at our request to find out the extent (10-15% as per preliminary estimate) of replacement necessary. Mending of bamboo fences will also receive a focus.
The second strategy would be to concentrate on roadside trees - avenue plantation, on all major roads. This could not have been done earlier as Metro construction was in progress in large stretches. Now, though Metro works are still continuing, especially in the station areas, many stretches such as the one near Pride Hotel / Novotel have recently been opened to traffic as per original road alignment. The avenue plantation would be sourced mostly from the Tall Tree Nursery that has come up in a 5 acre land at Action Area 1D not far from Tata Medical Centre : the Tall Tree Nursery is a joint initiative of Hidco and Forest Department's Wasteland Development Corporation. Quality saplings up to 4-5 feet are available there.
We would, however, concentrate on slender trees, trees that do not spread out in a canopy when grown because these would obstruct street lights and vision of drivers. Pine trees, 'debdaru', 'sonajhuri', Asian Cherry Blossoms, palm trees and coconut trees are on my radar but experts say that before finalising the species of trees, they would have to test the soil for suitability (I remebered that for the tea garden in Eco Park, Andrew Yule sourced earth from their North Bengal tea gardens as existing soil was not suitable for tea bushes).
Foxtrot Palm Trees as Avenue Plantation : One Choice
(This picture in Harinalaya)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Notification for Cattle Free Roads

In terms of notification number 1228-UD/)/M/HID/41-02/2017 dated 20.4.2018 of the State Govt in UD&MA Department, the amendment to the NKDA Act vide NKDA (Amendment) Act 2018 comes into effect from 20.4.2018.

The Amendment was passed in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly in March 2018 and after following the procedures and after getting the assent of the Governor, the amendment has been made effective.  As per this amendment, if any cattle, horse, pig, dog or any other animal or bird is kept on any land or premises in contravention of the provisions or is found straying, the chairman may direct any officer or employee of the NKDA authority to seize them. I will hold a meeting at NKDA office on Wednesday 25th to take steps to make operational the amended portion of the Act

In order to keep the seized animals with care, a cattle shed and a pet creche have recently been constructed in New Town. The cattle shed has facilities for feeding the animals, a small adminisrative office and an open ground for the cattle to graze. The area is spread over 3 acres, is located in Action Area 1D and action is being taken to frame draft rules regarding fees and procedure to be followed in confining the animals and releasing them subsequently. The rules will then be notified in official gazette after following procedure. Meanwhile, a Veterinary Doctor and assisting staff are also to be selected and appointed, for which an advisory committee is already formed.

A pet creche, treatment centre and burial ground has also just been completed by Hidco and the property handed over to NKDA for commissioning and operations. Spread over 25 kottahs, there are 10 creches for pet dogs, a small walking lawn, a veterinary doctor chamber and, at the rear end, pits for 30 burials. Here too, a committee wthin NKDA is proposing draft rules for fees, staff, doctor and other procedures.

A workshop was held last week at Eco Park to sensitive staff and security guards on ways to deal with stray dogs in Eco park. (see photo below).  An NGO dealing with dog care and dog vaccination delivered useful insights. Engineers of Hidco have been advised to block gaps in the fencing of the park to prevent sneaking-in of stray dogs. Work to this effect has already started. Also started is weekly sterilization and immunization of stray dogs of New Town. Awareness is to be built not to scatter food left overs on the round so that dogs are not attracted. Bamboo shields and small fenced temporary holding areas have been advised to be kept ready for dealing with the occasional rogue dog. The stress was on making Eco Park dog-free without hurting them while saving children and visitors.

Workshop on Safe Dog Handling, at Eco Park, last Friday

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Mishti Hub Opening

The Mishti Hub is almost ready. Finishing touches will require a couple of weeks or so. The picture above is taken by the architect group Salient who has designed it. Construction is by Hidco. After inviting notice seeking expression of interest, the following brands have agreed to open outlets here. Interestingly, the conditions of the bid were hat the sweet shop had to be in operation for 25 years or more and that other things being equal, the more ancient outlet would be preferred over other younger ones:
Nalin Chandra Das
Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullik
Ganguram Sweets
K C Das
Hindustan Sweets
Gupta Brothers
Some others like Naba Krishna Guin have shown interest also and newer brands are also trying to get a slot.
Other than branded traditional sweet outlets, a special counter will be there for displaying on a rotating basis ethnic specialities from the districts, such as Saktigarh Lyangchya, Burdwan's Sitabhog/Mihidana, Berhampore's Chhanabora, Krishnanagsr's Sarpuria/ Sarbhaja etc.

Counter for Ethnic District Specialities
Each counter for branded sweets will have a glass front showcase freezer, a backroom for storage and a rear entry for supplies. Each counter will have its own cash counter and packaging but near the exit there will be a security check and a Mishti Hub wrapper. A shop-in-shop concept. There will be tall tables for eating inside.

Shops in Mishti Hub
 There is a Mishti Hub Office where a caretaker will be there on behalf of Hidco to manage the facilities.
A central attrium will glass walls bring in sunlight inside. Cast iron carvings outside remind one of the old Calcutta charm, the old sweet traditions of Bengal. On front side, a drive in lane allows shoppers free parking for a limited period (30 minutes), enough to shop and taste.
Front parking: being readied

The Mishti Hub is located on Biswa Bangla Sarani (Major Arterial Road) on way to airport, on left side so that tourists leaving Kolkata by air can carry the fresh and best sweets. It is located close to the Seven Wonders, near Gate 3 of Eco Park

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Heat Wave

The National disaster Management Authority has issued an advisory recently in their letter number 1-38/2016-PP dt 7.3.2018 that the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted a heat wave in 2018 till May 2018. The seasonal average maximum, minimum and mean temperatures will be above normal. While the extent will vary in different states, the maximum temperature anomalies in West Bengal are likely to be between 0.5 deg and 1 deg.
On receiving this through the State Department of Disaster Management and Civil Defence, I held a meeting with Hidco, NKDA and PHED officers. Some of the measures we decided were as follows:
1. Construction of bus sheds at three points (opposite to Techno India College, at road crossing near Westin and near Owl More junction)

Existing temporary bus stand Hidco Bhavan

2. Construct two additional water ATMs near Gate 1 (Rabi Aranya) and Gate 3 (Mishti Hub) of Eco Park.  (There are two Water ATMs already near Gate 2 and & Wonders)
3. Mobilise through PHE Department Water Pouches (as we see in Kolkata Book Fair) in certain pockets of Eco Park.
4. Advise road repair and other construction agencies to keep ORS for workers and work in evening shifts with lights when possible

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Blockchain: Genesis to Congress

Of the various emerging technologies like AI, ML, IoT, VR, Robotics, Industry 4.0, Fintech and Blockchain, perhaps Blockchain is the most fundamental mover and there are still ways in which the government, the industry and the academicians are trying to grapple with it. It is fiendishly complex to explain the basics, that consist of encryption and hash values, distributed ownership and consenus, proof of work and a difficulty level that increases with machine power.

Like last month's knowledge workshop on Cybersecurity (a great success of IT&E Deptt/ Wbeidc/ Nasscom Kolkata , where 350+ participants attended), a Blockchain Knowledge Workshop will be organised next week, on 13th April 2018 (Thursday) at the Biswa Bangla Convention Centre. The IT&E Department with Wbeidc/ Nasscom would be driving it, in addition to the group Bengal Blockchain Believers. Already more than 450 registrations have poured in (fully on-line) and the process has had to be closed. Since there are 400 seats in the hall, a preliminary scrutiny is being done and confirmation mails are being sent.

The name of this event is Genesis: signifying the originating block of any blockchain, marking a beginning for Bengal in 2018 which would be culminated in a Global Blockchain Congress in December 2018.

Designed Theme for Genesis Blockchain Knowledge Sharing Workshop 
(Design from web; yet to be created by us). Global Blockchain Congress planned in Dec 2018
Blockchain is not only for cryptocurrency.
It is for Central Bank originated digital currency.
It is for creating loyalty tokens.
It is for storing unchangeable historical data.
It is for recording transactions infallibly.
It is for crowdfunding projects through ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings)
It is for cybersecurity.
It is for Fintech.

The idea is to acquire skills on Blockchain and knowing use cases that can be replicated or modified.
The sequence of speakers for the workshop is as follows:
Blockchain Summit – Genesis
Date: 13th April, 2018
Time: 10:00 to 16:00
Venue: Biswa Bangla Convention Centre
  DG Block, Action Area I,
  New Town, Kolkata – 700156

Timing Agenda
09:00 – 10:00 Registration
10:00 – 10:05 Welcoming the dignitaries on stage by Managing Director, WBEIDC, Government of West Bengal
10:05 – 10:20 Welcome Address by Mr. Debashis Sen, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of  West Bengal
10:20 – 10:30 Address by Hon’ble MIC DIT&E, Government of West Bengal, Shri Bratya Basu
10:30 - 11:00 De-mystifying Blockchain by Mr. Diptiman Dasgupta (Bengal Blockchain Believers) & Mr. Debojyoti Das (Bengal Blockchain Believers)
11:00 - 11:30 Break (Tea / Coffee)
11:30 – 12:00 Speaker – Mr. Saurabh Bhattacharya (Director, PwC) on - Blockchain in Government | Future synergies
12:00 – 12:20 Speaker – Mr. Jitan Chandanani (Partner & Blockchain Leader, IBM) - Blockchain | India perspective
12:20– 13:00 Panel Discussion – How do Corporates envisage Blockchain technology (Entrepreneurs' View point)

Moderator Mr. Atul Agarwal (Chairman – NASSCOM East). Panelists- Mr. Rangin Lahiri (CEO, Qlikchain), Mr. Sugata Roy (CEO, Arodek), Mr. Avelo Roy (Founder, Kolkata Ventures), Mr. Anand Raje (Head of Internet Governance Initiatives, Cyber Peace Foundation)
13:00 – 13:45 Lunch Break
13-45 - 14:00 Blockchain Quiz
14:00 – 14:25 Speaker - Mr. Ramyanshu Datta (Program Director – Industry Solutions & Offering, IBM US) on Blockchain | A Global Scenario
14:25 – 14:45 Speaker – Mr. Debasis Pramanik (Vice President,  Accenture) on - Blockchain | A trusted backbone & driving force in the financial sector
14:45 - 15:30 Panel Discussion | How Blockchain can change the future of Fintech

Moderator Dr. Santanu Paul (Founder – TalentSprint). Panelists – Dr. Bimal Roy (Centre Head – RC Bose Center for Cryptology and Security, ISI), Mr. Vishal Anand Kanvaty (Senior Vice President, NPCI), Ms. Indrani Saha (Associate Vice President, CTS), Mr. Rajesh Dhuddu (Senior Vice President, Quatrro Processing Services)
15:30 - 15:40 Summarizing the takeaways by Mr. Ambarish Dasgupta (Senior Partner and Founder at Intueri consulting LLP)
15:40 - 16:00 Closing Note address by Mr. Debashis Sen, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of  West Bengal & Vote of Thanks

* * *

Cooking Contest for Senior Citizens on Poila Baisakh

For the first time, a cooking - cum- recipe contest will be held at Swapna Bhor for Senior Citizens on Poila Baisakh (15 April 2018).
Two expert chefs from Cafe Ekante will judge the best dishes.
The members will bring in cooked food from their residences. After the judges reach their verdict, the food items will be available for all members for tasting.
Time: 5 pm

A large number of other resident-involved activities are also being planned for Poila Bousakh (15th April, Sunday) at New Town:

1. Special Buffet at Cafe Ekante, Eco Park Island

2. Special Lunch / Dinner at New Town Business Club

3. Special Cultural Function at Eco Island, Eco Park

4. Free documentary film show at Nazrul Tirtha Hall 3: 10 am: Satyen Bose
5. Cultural Event (Barshobaran) at Nazrul Tirtha by New Town Boimela Samity

6. Special Cultural Function at New Town Business Club

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Online Birth Registration begins in New Town

In terms of notification number 16554[KDA/Admn-1721201 dated :0410412017, online birth registration has been started for New Town by NKDA. Earlier, demand for birth registration was absent as no hospital in New Town had a Gynecology wing. Now with the commissioning of the  Bhagirathi Neotia Woman and Child Care Centre at New Town, requests are coming in. Hence the online system of birth registration has been started from yesterday.

Few features are as follows:

1. Completely online with provision for uploading the necessary documents.
2. Only two documents are required, i.e. Identity proof and hospital / doctor’s certificate of birth.
3. No need to visit the office. No paper works are needed to be done.
4. Electronically digitally signed certificates will be issued.
5. Simplified verification process.
6. Step by step intimation of the progress of the case through SMS and email.
7. Provision of tracking of application.
8. The applicant has to log on to
9. Functional from 04-04-2018

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Corporate Corner for Big Property Tax Payers

In order to help and guide big taxpayers in respect of property tax payment - to be effective from Monday 2 April 2018 - a separate "Corporate Corner" in a smart new office has been set up by NKDA. A senior officer with a dedicated team will give exclusive attention to help the corporate entities in New Town to file their self assessment on-line. The strategy is to mop up large collections quickly. I am also writing letters to many business firms of New Town informing them of the special arrangements made for their convenience.

For all residents too, a systematic help desk arrangement has been made in the same premises, at Utility Building, 5th floor of AA-1, Street 24, New Town (the building is identifiable easily as being near Water Tank No 3 and has "Gautam's" restaurant on ground floor). At the 5th Floor, there is a reception and waiting area where dedicated officials will help address all visitors' queries one by one. A token system similar to that prevailing in many bank branches these days will make the visitor management smooth and easy while those waiting for their turns may watch the TV (soon to be installed) in comfort. Leaflets and standees will be distributed / displayed in many parts of New Town to create awareness. I along with CEO NKDA D Biswas and AO NKDA Debjit Ganguly inspected the arrangements and tweaked few arrangements.

Meanwhile, more than 50 Tax Sathis have been trained and are ready to help any resident for self-assessment and payment for first quarter or first year. For annual payments, a 5% rebate is allowed. Services of Tax Sathis can be availed by residents free of cost: they will be given an honorarium directly by NKDA. A dummy form has been devised to help fill up on-line form effortlessly. No physical forms or documents are to be submitted initially by anyone.
* * *
Some salient features of property tax in New Town:

> Based on Unit Area System of assessment
> Entire method would be in on-line mode based on two step mobile phone-OTP authentication process
> e-District Portal of Govt of West Bengal or NKDA website will take one to the opening page
> 5% rebate on timely payment of quarterly dues
> 5% rebate on yearly dues if paid in first quarter
> Self Assessment to be filed on-line by 2 June 2018
>Procedure for Self-Assessment :Step 1: Visit and Click on “Assessment & Payment of Property Tax”...Step 2: After checking all the necessary details click on“Apply for Self-Assessment and Payment of Property Tax”....Step 3: Login using your user name & Password if already registered, else Click on “Citizen Registration” and follow the instructions to register...
Step 4: Choose the service “Assessment of Property Tax in NKDA” and submit your self assessment