Saturday, December 25, 2010

Any Given Sunday!

A detailed recce of New Town was in order, this past Sunday (12/12). The objective was to check in on some of the projects that have been hit due to the political strife ongoing. Opposing elements have hit a fever pitch!

Action Area II and III of the troubled township are under fire. Numerous projects dot these troubled acres. We hope, that both the rural and the urban can live in peaceful co-existence. Hope floats.

The projects identified on this trip were as under:

Sankalpa – a large project being executed in Action Area I by WBIDFC who have outsourced the construction work to Mackintosh Burn, a state-owned company with a glorious past, not so sure about the future though.

Sankalpa has recently launched their Site I and I found this billboard on my way to New Town.  12122010597

Get the drift ? Is it not ironical or what that the billboard would say ‘Best things is life, are always worth the wait’ ? So what is the inference here ? How long do we have to wait till Sankalpa’s ‘Sankalpa’ bears fruit ?

Uniworld City – a conglomerate, a mini city of it’s own. 68 high rises talking to the sky. This project is one among the worst hit. Last detailed coverage of this area featured on this blog, exactly 6 months to date, back in July this year. Quite surprisingly, you cannot even find this project on their website under the current projects section. However, just the Unitech Air is listed that too under past projects section. Don’t believe it see for yourself here.


My last official trip to Uniworld City was back in July 2010. This embattled project has been trying to fight against all odds to come up and make it inhabitable for it’s investors. Even back then there were a few families living here, amidst infrastructure for which abysmal is a gross understatement. They did have electric power then, or so I was told. Unitech provides for power back up for those moments of darkness.

Little seems to have changed since then at least on the surface. But a lot of activity seemed to have been going for Any Given Sunday ! There were cars pulling in and out the city gates. We ran into a Unitech marketing personnel named Gaurav Khanna. Gaurav is a young turk who provides us with lot of information as under

  • About 10-12 brave families are calling Uniworld City their home.
  • They now have power to power up homes with online power back up, which takes over within a minute of losing power, on occasions when power does go out !
  • Power has been provided to them by New Town Electricity Corporation Ltd (NTCL)
  • There is a small daily needs store that is run inside the complex. The person who runs this takes orders for what you need and home delivers the items ordered.
  • Sewerage still remains a problem, with the sewer pipes still lying dumped in the vast fields next to this project. The villagers continue to have the blessings of ‘Didi’ and will not budge.
  • Unitech has a STP – Sewage Treatment Plant in place to make up for this. The sewage is treated and then transported in trucks and transported out. Necessity is indeed the mother of all inventions. Innovative but not feasible as more and more families move in.
  • Another thing that is noteworthy is that a Volvo bus service has been started from here to Tollygunge. I do not have the exact schedule or pictures of it yet. Will try to get them soon.
  • Amidst all the gloom around New Town, he remains upbeat about it. Of course, he is being paid to do just that. However he did add that

We wanted a guided tour of the facility, but Gaurav who was himself accompanying another client, could not help us with that and asked us to seek an appointment with some one from the Unitech office. It was Sunday and we saved this for another day. Decided to pack up our shooting equipment -the versatile N8.


As part of this exercise it would only be pertinent to speak to a Rajarhat local and what he made of the ongoing controversy. We did not have to travel far to do this.


Above is Haroon Ali Mollah a local native of Rajarhat and a rag picker. He makes a living out of the urban littering habits. I walked up to him and chatted with him. Haroon seemed somewhat oblivious to the ongoing crisis plaguing New Town. He is himself landless so the current debate does not apply to him. He is father to 6 children, split into equal number of boys and girls. Haroon said he has dutifully discharged his social and moral obligation of getting his daughters married, one just this Friday. Thanks to some money he had inherited from his maternal family.  He said he doesn’t really belong to either side of the political divide. He still has to earn his daily bread doing what he does.    

Rosedale NRI – a prestigious project floated for NRI investment and occupation has hit a rough patch. Now under construction for nearly four years. The half complete towers tell a story of their own. Most developers cry foul with lack of infrastructure. However for crying out loud, how do you explain incomplete structures within the periphery of the project ? Some one has some explaining to do ? Rosedale really cuts a sorry figure !


Above picture shows Rosedale towers on the left and Uniworld City towers on the right.

Elita Garden Vista – another prestigious project being development in joint venture with the Keppel, one of Singapore's largest property developers, in association with Magus Estates of the Jatia Group. Here is a link to their most recent update on their website as of 11/26.

Shukhobrishti, a mass housing project much written about here on this blog has a few families that have moved in since the much ceremonious key handing over ceremony held earlier this year. We met up with one Mr. Bairagee - in charge of security, who had an interesting take on the subject. He thinks things will change, once the ruling left government is ousted; which seems almost inevitable come summer of 2011. He opines that the departments entrusted with these projects, development of necessary infrastructure – like transportation and communication will follow suit. I hope for his and my sake that he is indeed right. Or else New Town is slated for doomsday !

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Thanks to a lot of hoopla around New Town in the media these days. I saw a whole bunch of media folks around Shukhobrishti and Elita Garden Vista, shooting around with their expensive camera equipment. Upon asking them they claimed to be from ‘The Statesman’ and were on a recce. Working on a story that was to come out in a couple of weeks time. They had hitched a ride in a rickety white Ambassador car to this no man’s land.

I also spoke to the presswallah of a different order, across the street from Shukhobrishti, as you can see above. I asked him if he was getting enough clothes to press in order to sustain his business. To which he replied, he just got started a few days back. And the clothes that he was working on, mostly did not belong to city slickers like me or you – the reader of this blog. But to the villagers. I was stumped. Wonder if any of these belonged to the land losers or Didi supporters ? He quickly added though, that two families who have moved into Shukhobrishti do use his services.

Accompanying with them was a pan-chewing, bearded intellectual. He claimed being from ‘Tata Institute of Social Sciences’, Mumbai. As he saw me flash my expensive shooting equipment – a Nokia N8, he approached me with an interrogative gesture. After briefly introducing himself he wanted to know what was I doing there with my not-so-intellectual demeanor :) I told him I follow New Town and write about what I see around me. He wanted me to pontificate about the goings-on and how I felt about the land acquisition ? Is it right, is it forceful ? He indicated he was on a social trip and was going about talking to people on either side of the divide. The villagers, the investors, the developers and whoever he could lay his hands on. I saw competition in him. I did tell him though it can be debated as to what is forceful. The government both federal and state wants us to pay taxes on our incomes. Some might consider it forceful and some do.

I told him that obviously forceful land acquisition is just not right. However I weren’t sure that the entire area of Rajarhat was forcefully acquired, it just ain’t possible. I agree fair compensation should be given to land losers, a political term coined by the opposition. Several years back during the initial stages of it’s inception when land was being acquired, a compensation had been offered. Now as it stands today the compensation seems low in hindsight. This is a difficult nut to crack. However a negotiation can be arrived at if the parties involved can sit across a discussion table with a mindset to resolve the matter at hand. But then as we know, a resolution is not what the folks opposing it want. They thrive at a stalemate and would go for the kill. I told him this is just a sad commentary on the times we live in. I also cite the example of Singur and how the stalemate turned into a deadlock and the resulting exit of Tatas. Sadder for the people of Singur, on either side of the debate. For those who did not want to give their lands, still ended up losing it. The acreage occupied by the erstwhile plant remains there. I would need to know how does Madam Didi who so ceremoniously declared victory plans to return the land she claims to have won by driving out the Tatas ! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Welcome to Mamataland !

Mamata Banerjee first splashed on to the political scene in the state of West Bengal, many winters ago. The left front was in it’s hey days, politically unchallenged and untested. She started off her career as a boisterous ‘Mahila’ congress leader. If the left front was LEFT, she was as RIGHT as they come. She has made a career out of challenging the left front on their own turf. I have to give it to her that she has persevered, worked hard, fought, lead by example. I dare not deny the the devil it’s due. She rose up the ranks, until she became too fit into the Congress mould and launched her own outfit – TMC. 

Even though ‘Didi’ lovingly known among her supporters need no introduction, the following has been put together to give you some insight into the persona of a leading thinker of our times. She has earned a number of firsts with her brand of politics, some samples are listed below:

  • She had once jumped and danced in protest uninhibited on the bonnet of Jaiprakaash Narayan’s car.
  • At a public rally at Alipore in Kolkata, she wrapped a black shawl around her neck and threatened to make a noose with it.
  • In February 1997, on the day of railway budget presentation in Lok Sabha, Mamata Banerjee threw her shawl at the railway minister Ram Vilas Paswan for ignoring West Bengal and announced her resignation. Then, speaker, P. A. Sangma, did not accept her resignation and asked her to apologize.

She single handedly drove away Tatas from Singur on the pretext of being a voice for the farmers. After succeeding in her mission, she wants us to believe that what she did was in the best interest of the state and it’s people. Hence her slogan - ‘Maa, Maati, Manush’. By sheer coincidence all words in the slogan begin with ‘M’. Phew. She came, saw and conquered ! When the Tata sun set on Singur, and rose up in Gujarat - she declared victory, in the same vein as George W. Bush’s victory cry of ‘Mission Accomplished !’ aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

mamataV bush_MI

Her USP has been her simplicity, her ‘clean’ image, her bathroom slippers and her cotton saris.

Done with a brief introduction, let me try to keep my focus on the issue at hand, as difficult as it may be. So on the 9th of December, a war cry was let out and a huge circus was set-up in Salt Lake. The agenda was to oppose HIDCO’s best laid plans. All this unfolding bang opposite a public hospital, and within close proximity to another. What ensued was complete anarchy, traffic was blocked and re-routed from forenoon hours to late in the afternoon. People wanting to visit their sick relatives and friends at the hospital were grossly inconvenienced at large, citing constitutional right to protest. And this is the change we are being promised ?

A lady who was walking down the stretch of Broadway with her teen son in tow was interviewed by a TV channel. She had to make good use of her and her son’s legs, as no public transport was available. I stood and observed the interview. The lady was obviously fuming in response to the siege that was being laid in her neighborhood. I was able to park my car at some distance and was walking down the avenue. I offered the mother and the son a ride in my car and drove them a ride to their doorstep. The lady thanked me profusely, and we bid adieu.

Now the obvious question is - what happens when the ruling government does the same in their favorite area – Metro Channel, Esplanade. Well, two wrongs don’t make a right. Not especially when you are trying to be the change and promising the sky to gullible citizens. I abhor this breach of a citizen’s constitutional right, regardless of which party is at the helm.

Wonder though, what happened to claims laid by of that of transforming Calcutta to London ? I have never had the good fortune to visit London, but I am relatively sure and am told this does not happen in London.

As for the ‘hot potato’ question, should the farmers be denied compensation as per current rates ? I believe a dialog should be started, and an amicable solution should be worked out by both the warring factions. Some solution, other than ‘No solution’ should be arrived at. But for that Ms. B, has to swing her magic wand and be open to come to the discussion table. Given her track record, it remains a doubtful starter.

The unsuspecting investors who have invested into the dream of owning their own roof have not done anything illegal. They have played by the book and taken out costly mortgages, and are chasing their dream that may never come true. They are getting sandwiched in a political tug of war, which is not of their own making ! I hereby, earnestly request Ms. B to spare a thought for them.

Some say, this rhetoric is going to change, when she assumes power. Which now appears to be a matter of time. Please explain this to me, as if I were a 6 year old - ‘How would we go from a firm no to soft yes ?’.

Below are some pictures of what went on in Salt Lake, on this day.

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I conclude by asking the question – Is New Town going the Singur way ? If the answer is YES, this might be time to pull out your investments. If the answer is NO, praise the Lord !

Good luck and Good night !

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dawn of a new era (read war …)

(* Apologize to my readers for being AWOL for nearly what must be a couple of months. I am trying to get back into the groove and start reporting again !)

This article is likely to win me some foes. But then again, I am not here to make friends. I am here to state facts the way they are and leave it to the people to adjudicate.

I have been away for a while, not quite physically but mentally. My last post was nearly three months ago. Work and ‘Status Quo’ have kept me away from writing about New Town. Projects and their progress have stagnated for a while. Earlier in October, the administration took it upon themselves to rename New Town, to ‘Jyoti Nagar’ name after the departed – Jyoti Basu. He continues to serve the ‘party’ as their untenable mascot !

In India and Bengal, renaming towns and cities, even stations and airports is a huge fad ! As if anything is going to change by simply renaming it after ‘great personalities’ as perceived by the ‘powers that be’. The name changing game only does enough to create a memorial in the name of the person, it is being named after. But then again, who are we to question anything ?


JB keeping watch over the progress of New Town project in the background

The pictures in this post are from a  few weeks back, when I went around New Town. It still seems no different than the wild-wild west, it has been.

So by now you must be wondering what is this post about and the title too ! Well, the one and only Ms. Mamata B. has yet again announced a land protest in the New Town/Rajarhat area.

The railway minister had lead a march of 25,000 farmers in Rajarhat on November 13 to protest allegedly forcible land acquisition and denial of compensation relating to the New Town project and other plans. Read more here.

Latest on the anvil to thwart any plans HIDCO might have had for New Town, is to gherao the HIDCO office. One just hopes and prays, it does not turn violent!

Ms. B has kept the rhetoric going against any form of development in New Town, or for that matter in any part of the state. Unless, of course it has to do with railways. This sounds all too familiar with her successfully driving out the Tata Nano plant out of Singur. Do not underestimate her power of being able to sabotage any development effort in the state.

In the on going fiasco about Infosys’s plans to set up shot in New Town. Partha Chatterjee the party spokesperson and Mrs. B’s yesman,  is being quoted in today’s news papers “We don’t have anything against IT companies. Our leader wants an IT hub in Bengal. But the land agitation will continue”. So what is the inference here ? Something like this, I guess - we would love to have the IT companies come to Calcutta, but we will really not let it happen ! Some one needs to train these people some English. Because they contradict themselves more than anyone else.

Here is Telegraph’s latest jibe at what is *NOT* happening in and around New Town, Rajarhat. It is clear that an impasse has been reached and not much will change before the summer blockbuster in 2011 – the assembly elections.

I really think one possible way out of this deadlock is also to get some voices together. The voices who are ‘For the motion’, pro-development and as end users have invested into their dream home only to be met with political warring factions. There are enough people looking out for the farmers, how come there is no one talking about people like us who are innocent investors. How are we to blame for the current scenario ? How come Ms. B is completely oblivious about the dreams of hundreds of thousands of people who have invested in their dream homes. Or may be she is just feigning ignorance. Just that this is turning out to be a dream that we might never wake up to !

Below are some random pictures I took during my last official trip to Rajarhat, New Town.


There are thousands of urban families too, whose future is at stake. Their homes have been under construction since time immemorial. The saddest part is that Ms. B is not open to a dialog of any kind. She thrives in this kind of politics, where a deadlock is reached and no talks are possible. Reaching across the aisle has never her style or her forte. She seems to be in the pink of her health and that makes reaching out even more difficult, with her gaining physical and political weight with each outing. ;-)

But folks this is NO laughing matter! A lot is at stake. We have to do more than just hope that things will fall into place on their own, post elections. Ms. B is known to be unpredictable and we cannot rely on her to do the right thing !

I really believe that a consortium of home/apartment/office owners and a similar one representing the interest of the developers who are promoting these projects, should be on the cards. We have to stand up and protect our own interests. It has been too long that we have allowed the political netas and didis to wield the sword of power !

Let us stand united, people and be the change we believe in ! Email me your thoughts, suggestions and ideas at to combat these deadly forces who want to take Calcutta and Bengal back to the all to familiar dark ages, we might have started to emerge from !

Hallelujah !

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sankalpa SOS

My previous call(s) to investors and/or flat owners at Sankalpa seems to have been in vain. I am referring to my previous post here. I sincerely hope I could evince some interest this time around as I do have bad news to share. Historically bad news tend to wake up people, more than good news.

So like they say - I have got good news and bad news. Which one do you want first ? Let us do good news first. So here it is. This morning's papers (Sep. 18 - Day after Vishwakarma Pujo; coincidence huh ? Also 2 days after the terrible accident where in the school bus turned turtle ), carry a story about Delhi's/Centre's seal of approval on New Town as a satellite township and has agreed to pay nearly 50 % of the costs of some key infrastructure projects. 

Now while this is certainly good news, I doubt if it would change any ground reality.  TMC Supremo - Ms. B has a notorious past of not heeding to any central directive and is known to be headstrong and her diffident chieftains have already sounded the war bugle by saying this - The state government will have to return land to the people who were forced to part with it,” said Prabir Kar, Trinamul Congress president of Rajarhat block.

 So now being done with the good news moving on to the bad news. I was at Sankalpa's office in Salt Lake City, day before yesterday, when the bombshell was dropped on me, and I was taken by surprise. 

I have been visiting their office every few weeks just to check up on them and get their take on how the project is coming along and all thing sundries. During most of my visits I would walk in to the lair of the Chief Civil Engineer - one Mr. Goswami. 

Mr. Goswami - has this some what laid back, pleasant demeanor about him. He always sports a smile, and seems to be in touch with the progress of the project.  My inquiries to him would both be general in nature and specific to Site III towers and their proposed deadline. Thus far Mr. G has always assured me that if March 2011 was the due date for the deliverable, they might need the allowable grace period of 3 months. So March 2011 + 3 months = ETA of July 2011. In addition to Mr. G the folks from N.K. Realtors - the marketing agents of Sankalpa, have been singing the same tune.  

Despite what WBIDFC representative Mr. G and N.K. Realtor guys said. Following their progress closely,  man to man, heart to heart I knew July 2011 was a tough sell for Site III. I was mentally preparing myself for may be a move in around "Pujo 2011" time-frame.

So I met Mr. G the other day and he started off in the same vein, telling me only about 25% of the work remains to be done. He said he was very comfortable with the July 2011 deadline for Site III. He added, that they might be sending out pre-possession letters (some form of communication to the investors about a tentative date of possession blah blah blah ..)  by the year end.  Then he had a Eureka moment and quickly ran inside his office, while we were sitting in the lobby area.  He came out with a stinker ! He had made a mistake, actually they are now looking at November 2011 and not July 2011 for Site III ! 

I did a quick math in my head and realized that this amounts to a delay of 8 months from the initial deadline of March 2011, and even a 5 month delay from the revised ETA of July 2011. While I understand delays happen, I am sure there might be at least some investors like me out there who do not have the stomach of bearing the financial burden of this delay. Living in a rented accommodation as I am, and paying through my nose makes me really long for the day when I can move into my own apartment and stop paying both a steep mortgage and a steeper rent !
I was quickly re-assured though that the November deadline is keeping into accounts all the variables and is really a maximum time limit. Also was assured that WBIDFC the developers will keep their promise of paying a penalty of Rs. 4000 per month, for each month of delay !  However this money will not be paid in cash at this time, it will be adjusted against outstanding dues one may have at the time of closing/possession.  

Developers all across New Town and elsewhere too are notorious for flashing the Force majeure clause and hiding under it's protection. Thus evading having to pay penalty to hapless investors. I have been repeatedly reassure that WBIDFC is not just another developer, they are a government company and will be stand by their commitment. Well, time will tell !

Mr. G unlike during my previous meetings with him, looked somewhat hassled and flustered. I was told he was in-between either a meeting and/or some audit process. He quickly dropped the November bombshell and went back to his lair. 

Now almost as if telepathically I receive an email from another investor at Sankalpa, Site II, which was to be delivered in August this year. Below is an excerpt from his email, verbatim :

Hello All,
I was told recently by the Sankalpa office personnel at Salt Lake that the delivery will be in March/April, 2011. The official delivery date was August this year and after the 3 months grace period, they will be paying us penalty (per month) which will be adjusted during closing.

I would like to conclude here by simply saying - जागो ग्राहक जागो ,  জাগো গ্রাহক জাগো  or as they say in the American twang - Wake up and smell the coffee !

The age old adage could not be truer in this context - United we stand, divided we fall !

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shukhobrishti Handover Ceremony

The West Bengal government and HIDCO are making every effort possible to give New Town an image makeover. They are trying every arrow in their quiver to hit the target. In the same vein an elaborate arrangement had been done for a ceremonial hand over of 1500 apartments at Shukhobrishti the mass housing project in Action Area III.

SP Shukhobrishti is one of a kind mass housing project which by the end of it will have 20,000 dwelling units and by that effect about 100,000 people living under it's shelter.

The entire political glitterati were to be present at this symbolic event where a chosen few would get the keys to their dream home personally by the esteemed guests.  To bring into focus the corporate - state partnership, they even decided to fly down the SP, CEO of Shapoorji Pallonji's real estate ventures - Kekoo Colah, a very well spoken individual.

Despite the housing minister - Gautam Deb's multiple offers to the Ms. Mamata B., some even bordering on insanity; to which she never did warm up. Ms. Big B has this unflinching faith in her abilities, her unwavering philosophy and her continued stance of non-cooperation which could even do a Mahatma Gandhi proud !

All road this on this rainy afternoon led to Shukhobrishti, as you can see in the pictures below ...

Tailgating a police jeep ...

Dark clouds over New Town, quite literally so !
Welcoming Shapoorji Pallonji ...
Bridge on the river kwai ...
गाय हमारी माता है, हमको कुछ नहीं आता है :)
The last stretch of the short drive to Shukhobrishti, is rather rocky and puts the suspension of your car to some test. The SP site wore a festive look ready to welcome the HIDCO and political big wigs.The main entrance was decorated with cloth pillars and banners, a huge tent had been put up, a couple of hundred red plastic chairs were thrown in. And you think the color of the chairs was a mere coincidence, think again my friend. Red is THE color even if for only a few months more ;-)

Rows of red chairs ...

Guests pouring in ...
The Shukhobrishti buildings in the background ...
We walked in through a makeshift metal detector frame (sorry no pictures of that) and took couple of seats and made ourselves comfortable. We were welcome by a Rabindrasangeet singer. The extra loud Peavey speakers (Designed in USA - What about down with imperialism ? Changing face of communism ? May be so !) . The loud speakers were making sure, the songs were heard even a few miles down the road.

The clock struck four and the countdown started to the CM's arrival. The Rabindrasangeet singer picked up pace. Buddha babu showed up bang on time, lead by a North Patrol Car 1.  Along with him came the rest of the babus and sahebs - Gautam Deb Babu, Abdur Razzak Mollah Saheb, Abdus Sattar Saheb, Rabindranath Mondal Babu, Saurabh Kumar Das, MD, HIDCO and last but not the least the corporate face of event Mr. Kekoo Colah.

The stage was set for the dignitaries with high back chairs  and tables covered with spotless white sheets, neatly lined awaited their hosts.

I have to admit, I was impressed by the clock work precision with which the events unfolded. The CM drove in his chariot of white ambassador cars. A lady from the TV circuit, whose name I do not know, was the compere for  the afternoon. She spoke both English and Bengali with equal elan. She introduced the eminent guests. The Rabindrasangeet singer was done for the day and was NOT even introduced to the audience. It was now the turn of the HIDCO officials and the politicians to sing their song, and so they did.

First to take the stage was Saurabh Das, Managing Director, HIDCO. Mr. Das spoke in an accent very uncharacteristic of Kolkata and/or Bengal. He spoke about the philosophy of New Town, the ethos behind it. He positioned SP Shukhobrishti as a New Town landmark similar to Great Indian Mall in Ghaziabad (I think he misspoke here though, this should be Noida),  Ansals Plaza in Greater Noida and few other examples. His speech was a smattering of Hindi, English, Bengali and some buzzwords like mass housing, malls, fly overs, philosophy, ethos and such ...

Then came, Robindronath Mondol; M.L.A - who spoke like a politician,  Mr. Kekoo Coolah- suave, well meaning, smooth talking corporate citizen who did highlight the fact even if very politely, that HIDCO and the government do need to step up the ante and speed up the development process in New Town to make the place truly liveable,  Abdur Rezzak Mollah was the Mr. 'Smarty Pants', kept his speech short and sweet, made a jab at Ms. B, succinctly though, Abdus Sattar again spoke like a politician, the housing minister Gautam Deb started slow, but made an aggressive comeback and turned fire brand, started with New Town and how the political opposition is killing it, and ended by playing to the galleries by playing the Hindu vs. Muslim card. Lastly came the CM. It was starting to get dark and the audience which mainly comprised of the construction workers from the area was starting to get restless and tired of clapping at intervals.

We guessed that waiting till the end of CM's speech might not be a great idea as there is going to be a mass exodus of nearly a 1000 people, which would clog the exits and the roads out of the venue. The CM was not going to be revealing anything earth shattering anyhow, he would have reiterated pretty much the same talking points that were made by all the speakers before him. Clearly from TRP standpoint, they should have let the CM speak earlier, but what do I know ?

Following are some videos I captured at the event (please excuse the grainy quality and lack of close ups of speakers, due to not being seated at a vantage point, however the very crisp and clear audio makes up for it to a certain extent).

SP Shukhobrishti - Ceremonial Handover - Introduction

Kekoo Colah, CEO Shapoorji Pallonji - Real Estate

Saurabh Kumar Das, MD, HIDCO

Monday, September 6, 2010

SaveNewTown scores a half-century on IndiBlogger !

Thank you, readers. This encourages me to keep reporting. 


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hiland Willows Explored !

Hiland Willows sits at the end of the road, preceded by Bengal DCL's Malancha, Bengal Shelter's Teen Kanya, Peerless's Anahita and Sunrise Symphony by the Bengal Sureka group (in this order).

All these projects are in Action Area II of New Town, and were all effected first by the slow down in the economy, later by the slow moving brain of the TMC Supremo the unchallenged, the one and only 'মহা ' Didi (The great sister). Some call her 'মহা ' Debi (The great Goddess).

The only silver lining on the cloud is that Hiland Willows in particular has been really sweetening the deal for people willing to buy an apartment at their project. Their tag-line has been for a while now - 'Get premium, semi-furnished, air-conditioned apartments at unbelievable prices'. So I guess one can say that Didi does have a positive effect on the economy, she has been able to drag the prices down, of these otherwise steeply priced projects.

But then, let us get serious. We surely hope that come 2011, and Didi has her throne, and throws a few bones towards her henchmen. Isn't that's what this is all about - 'Live and Let Live'. Let us pray, that some of  these projects could prosper, so an otherwise ghost town can get inhabited. I think I am now done with my daily prescription of sarcasm for our future CM. Moving on.

Visited Hiland Willows earlier today and found the security and support staff to be very forthcoming in showing us their sample flats. 2 thumbs up for Hiland Willows management on being customer friendly and delivering what so far seems to be a quality product.

* They are using a different kind of brick for this project, it is called fly ash brick, which is different from the red bricks made in a brick kiln. And is said to have pros and cons. Click on the link above to know more about Fly Ash Bricks.

At this point I will stop talking and let the pictures do the rest of it.

We were shown 2 sample flats, this one is - Cypress Premium (just over 2000 sq. ft.).

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And now Cypress Standard (Approximately 1900 sq. ft.)

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Home Front, 2010

Saturday newspapers shouted from the roof-top, about Home Front 2010, at the Netaji Indoor Stadium. Previously known for concerts like Hope 86, and shooting of the Big B blockbuster Yaarana. 

CREDAI - Bengal the West Bengal chapter of the apex body of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India  arrange a real estate road show once a year, every year.

A property fair such as this gives an ideal platform to the buyers, realtors, the marketing companies, and the home loan financiers to mingle. The admittance is reasonably priced at just Rs. 20.  Once inside the stadium arena you will witness the who's who of the real estate players. It was moderately crowded for a Saturday afternoon.

WTF ? Excuse my French.

The above signage with the fountain as the backdrop, was strategically placed at the entrance, suggested an antithesis of  sorts. Our respected Mayor, his highness Sovan Chatterjee was entrusted with the job of cutting the ribbon at this prestigious event. I hope to God the Mayor had Didi's blessing and approval to do this. The poor man has a new job and has a family to feed ;-) After all this was a showcase event for any and all real estate development in and around Kolkata. Including Rajarhat, New Town where Didi and her Didigiri enjoys a stronghold, and has been very successful in delaying if not complete stoppage of infrastructural development. Can this be construed as a softening of her stance or will Rajarhat continue to be her 'Bête Noire' ? Your guess is as good as mine. Moving on then.

Fair Overview

Kid Friendly Fair
A happy family turnstile @ the Urbana booth
Urbana's vision of tomorrow, too good to be true and unreal !
Touch Screen, Self Help Kiosks for Customers @ Pioneer's booth

If I were to guess, there were probably close to a 100 booths/stalls. Most of them were busy pitching their product to the visitors. The young and vibrant marketing executives were busy explaining how their product was the best on the market. They were selling dreams. Different modes of advertisement were at work from LCD displays looping through a/v presentations, to touch-screen, self help kiosks, to free Nano, to immediate discounts for spot booking. I can only imagine how the marketing wheels must have worked feverishly to come up with a plan for oneupmanship over the past few days to get that USP (Unique Selling Point), to be visible in a crowd.

Picture taken on 26th August, 2010

It is noteworthy to add that I chatted  up with a young exec named Nitin from the Pioneer booth. He was looking after Rajarhat/New Town projects being marketed by Pioneer. I almost grilled him, asking him some uncomfortable questions regarding projects such as Rosedale, which was very aggressively marketed by this firm back in 2006. His response was stereotypical apropos political situation, infrastructural road blocks. I did not mention this blog, but I did drop a hint that I follow New Town close enough to know what goes around in town. I was fishing for any more information over and above what we already know.  I told him during my recent visits to Rosedale NRI project, I was quite disappointed to see that there did not seem to be much activity going on, at the site. A project that is over 6-9 months delayed, should seem busy to say the least. On the contrary the scene at the construction site looks abysmally slow and the progress is lethargic. To this Nitin replied that work was surely underway and they are looking at handing over the ready units within about a year's time. I contradicted Nitin and argued that at this rate, even two year looks far fetched, leave alone a year. I certainly hope I am wrong and they deliver in a year from now. He also added that all projects in that zone including Uniworld City are hit badly due to the stiff opposition in laying sewer lines and erecting electric poles.

Where are you Didi, are you listening ? Your man Friday, your appointee Mr. 'Jol' Sovan Chatterjee is cutting ribbons, while you are busy cutting/shredding people's dreams into pieces !

I did mention to him that in my humble opinion, it does seem that the builders are using the infrastructural row to their advantage, and taking it easy on delivering a finish product. The interior finishing of the building has nothing to do with the infrastructural issues that are hurting New Town.

Hi-Land / Calcutta Riverside
Free Nano - Yeah Right !
 Now I am going to talk a little about two different projects that caught my attention and sounded somewhat interesting amidst the maze of high rises. A concept of second home is a novel one, for people who can afford to own more than one property.

One such project is called - আমার বাড়ি (My House). It is being developed by Bengal Greenfield Housing Development Co. Ltd. The same people behind Greenfield Heights, Greenfield  Ambition both in New Town. 

A Village Villa

What draws me to the this project: a. Heritage location - Santiniketan b. Own Bungalow c. Village styled villa d. Affordable pricing, starting at Rs. 11 Lacs, and going upto 21 Lacs. It will be difficult getting an apartment these days in the City of Joy at that price.

There are about 151 bungalows in all, and I think the customer executive from MMG (the company marketing this project) said that they have about 60 odd bungalows still available, which will be released in 2 subsequent phases. I don't have the money for this now, unless a wealthy reader of this blog is willing to make me a Pujo/Diwali or Christmas gift :)) I would still however be visiting Santiniketan and this project in short order. I am looking forward to it.

Next, this one is closer to the city and uses a term that I have heard for the first time in real estate retail. They call is plug and play apartments, that's an innovative adjective for a fully furnished apartment. Once again it this project is trying to cash in a growing segment of second home buyers. This one is called - Nirvana - studio apartments(552 sq. ft  studio/ 977 sq. ft. duplex apartments); supposedly 40 mins. from Alipore in a settlement called আমতলা - a town that sits on the Diamond Harbor Road, about 25 kms from Esplanade - the city center of Kolkata. So were now in the age of Plug-
and-Play Nirvana, huh ?

Enough said. It was an afternoon well spent and hopefully, some information in here could be useful to readers of this space.

Thanks and Cheers !

Good night and Good luck !
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