3G auction update

Cut motion flops

Frenemies like the BSP, SP and RJD help the UPA 2 survive the cut motion.

Infrastructure sector grows 7.2% in March

The infrastructure sector continues to grow at a healthy rate. In March, the six key sectors crude oil, petroleum refinery, coal, electricity, cement and finished steel posted an annual growth of 7.2%, boosting prospects of a robust overall industrial growth in the month. The six sectors had grown by 3.3% in March 2009. These six industries, which have a combined weightage of 26.7% in the overall industrial production index, showed a marked improvement in March — as against 4.7% in February 2010. For 2009-10, the infrastructure sector registered a growth of 5.5% against 3% in the same period last year, an official statement said. Finished steel with a 9.2% expansion led the recovery, reversing a negative 1.8% growth in March last year. Coal, electricity and cement grew by 7.8% each against 5.3%, 6.3% and 10.1%, respectively in 2008-09. Crude oil production went up by 3.5% from a negative 2.3% the same month previous fiscal. But petroleum refinery products showed a dismal performance with 0.4% contraction in March 2010 over a positive 3.3% a year ago. "The growth of 7.2% growth means overall industrial growth will stay healthy in March," Crisil principal economist DK Joshi said. The overall industrial output maintained a high growth rate of over 15% for the third month in a row in February. Crude oil production registered a growth of 0.5% during April-March 2009-10 compared to contraction of 1.8% during the same period of 2008-09. Petroleum refinery production contracted 0.4% compared to 3%, the statement said.


Somewhere in Pune....

Double trouble !...Even as the traffic branch is taking action against motorists stopping on ‘zebra crossings’, several junctions in the city have two stop lines, like this one at Lal Mahal chowk in Kasba Peth, leading to confusion among commuters. The traffic branch has, however, clarified that the stop lines are being painted afresh at the correct places for pedestrians’ convenience .

Bangalore infrastructure snippets

MONORAIL :After many ayes and nays, the monorail is turning into a reality. The Karnataka government will soon invite global tenders and also award contracts for some key transport infrastructure projects in Bangalore, including the monorail and High Speed Rail Link (HSRL) to the international airport. The global tender for the detailed project report (DPR) for the monorail in Bangalore will be floated soon, which in the first phase will connect the north and south of the city — Hebbal to JP Nagar — totalling 34 km. It will act as a feeder service to the Metro, and will be executed through the Swiss Challenge method. Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa said that the monorail project would be taken up for approval in the next cabinet meeting. It would be implemented in two phases, with an estimated length of 60 km. The cost is estimated at Rs 140 crore per km, taking the total project cost to around Rs 8,400 crore. The state government would be coming up with a DPR as well as various concessions for the project soon.
Hebbal to JP Nagar - 34km
Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) to Toll Gate along Magadi Road - 9km
Kathriguppe Road to National College - 5km
Hosur Road to Bannerghatta Road - 15km
CORRIDOR I (ALONG OUTER RING ROAD) Ganapati temple in JP Nagar with Metro Phase II Banashankari with Metro Phase II Katriguppe with Metro Phase II Mysore Road with Metro Phase II Magadi Road with Metro Phase I Tumkur Road with Metro Phase I Hebbal with High Speed Rail
CORRIDOR II Chord Road junction (Phase I) Beggar’s Colony junction (Phase I) ROUTES Majestic - Hudson Circle - Wilson Garden - Dairy Circle - Agaram Lake — 14.2km Wilson Garden - Banashankari - Mysore Road - Majestic — 15.3km Majestic - Rajajinagar - Basaveshwaranagar - Mahalaskshmi Layout - Yeshwanthpur - Malleswaram - Sadashivanagar - High Grounds — 15 km Cantonment - Indiranagar - Domlur - Ejipura - Koramangala — 14.6 km HISTORY Proposal from M/s Scomi Geodesic Proposal submitted to BBMP earlier Presented at BMLTA meeting Sub-committee formed to review and recommend Recommendation would be brought before ABIDe for approval
ADVANTAGES Requires minimum space both horizontally and vertically Smaller footprint Feel of open space Grade-separated Emergency walkways
DISADVANTAGES Not compatible with rail Turnout with high speed difficult
Madavara to Hesarghatta - 4.02 km
Puttenahalli to Anjanapura - 6.79 km
Mysore Road to Kengeri - 7.70 km
Byappanahalli to ITPL - 11.60 km
HIGH SPEED RAIL: On the HSRL project, which will serve as a rail link from the centre of the city to the international airport, the state government is expecting work to begin in February 2011. The chief minister said the concessions agreement, DPR and requirements have been to sent to five short-listed bidders and they are expected to get back to the government in the next 15 days. The land acquisition process for HSRL project is expected to begin very soon, and it is likely that the government would enter an agreement with the winning bidder by August this year. “Actual work will start from February 2011,’’ Yeddyurappa said. HSRL is expected to have a travel time of 25 minutes to the airport and plans are to have 20 trains running daily. However, the delay in awarding the HSRL project has seen a cost escalation, with estimated investments touching Rs 6,990 crore from the earlier figure of Rs 5,770 crore. Yeddyurappa said they are expecting a grant of Rs 1,040 crore from the Centre, and the state government will take up 26% equity in HSRL. The contract will be awarded to one of the five consortia — Reliance Infrastructure Limited and CSR Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock Co Ltd, L&T Transco Limited, ITD-ITD Cem Joint Venture, Pioneer Infratech Pvt Ltd and Siemens Project Ventures and Lanco Infratech Ltd and OHL Concessionaire — by May-end to execute the project.
METRO RAIL: On the ongoing Metro project, the government has decided on expanding Phase II, totalling around 45 km, connecting centres like IIM-B, Nagawara, Byappanahalli, ITPL, Mysore Road, Kengeri and Hesarghatta. This expansion would require an investment of around Rs 14,000 crore.


The government’s ambitious UID project was renamed ‘Aadhaar’ and its new logo unveiled with chairman Nandan Nilekani underscoring that the scheme would lay the foundation for effectively delivering services especially to the poor. Nilekani, chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India, said Aadhaar translates into a ‘foundation’ or ‘support’ and the project, aiming to give a 16-digit number to all citizens of the country starting from February next year, will now be known by the new name. “We wanted a name that could effectively communicate its transformational potential and its promise to residents. Something that had a national appeal, that could be recognised across the country, could resonate in different languages and easy to remember and speak,” he told reporters, adding the acronym UID was confusing. Nilekani, who was addressing a seminar organised by the UIDAI here, said the same standard was also set for making of the logo, which shows a sun in yellow and a fingerprint in the centre, and has been created by a Mumbai resident . The logo, selected after a nationwide competition, was unveiled by Dhaneshwar Ram, a farmer from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh who was invited by the UIDAI to speak on the hardships faced by the common man in getting an identity proof.

World Bank snippets

The World Bank, the premier poverty fighting institution owned by 186 countries, has decided to give more say to developing nations—including India—through increased voting powers and a $86-billion hike in its share capital. The World Bank has allowed for a change in voting rights for different countries, making India the seventh largest shareholder in the institution. At the spring meeting of the World Bank-International Monetary Fund in Washington, the member countries have agreed to increase India’s voting power from 2.77% to 2.91%. China’s quota saw a far greater increase to 4.42% from 2.77%. As a group, developing and transition countries (DTCs) will get 3.13% higher voting rights, a release from the World Bank said. As a result of the increase in total capital base that would allow the agency to lend an additional $86 billion, India would also be able to get between $7 billion and $10 billion more in the coming years from the World Bank. While voting rights of countries like India, China, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey have increased, that of some of the major European and other countries that have traditionally dominated international finance like UK, France, Germany, the Nordic and Benelux countries, Japan, Australia and Canada, have gone down. While India becomes the seventh largest shareholder, China will become the third biggest shareholder of the World Bank, behind the US and Japan but ahead of Germany. US, the largest shareholder in the multilateral funding agency, currently holds 15.85%, followed by Japan (6.84%), China (4.42%), Germany (4%), France (3.75%), the UK (3.75%) and India (2.91%. The World Bank-IMF concluded their annual spring meeting with an overall shift of 3% voting rights to developing countries bringing their total voting rights to 47%. As a result of these changes, India is now ahead of Russia, Canada, Australia, Italy and Saudi Arabia in terms of voting power. India’s increase in shareholding is a reversal of the declining trend that the country had been witnessing since 1970.

Maha will ink MoUs worth Rs 4000 crore

The Maharashtra state government is going to ink Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)s worth Rs 4,167 crore with 13 leading companies and is expected to provide employment to 6,660 people. Industries minister Rajendra Darda said that Asian Paints is coming up with a plant in Satara with an investment of Rs 735 crore. This is expected to provide employment to 600 people. According to Darda, cement giant ACC is coming up with a Rs 1551.50 crore plant at Ghugus in Chandrapur creating 200 new jobs while Jaibharath Textiles and Real Estate Limited is setting up a plant worth Rs 503.39 crore in Wardha, employing 1,200 people. These MOUs will be inked soon to mark 50 years of Maharashtra. The MIDC on Monday has signed a Rs 2,600-crore MoU with tyre giant Bridgestone. Darda said that Abhay Kotex was coming up with a plant in Jalna, spending Rs 23.35 crore and providing employment to 270 people. Leading namkeen producer from Nagpur, Haldiram is expanding his business and a plant with an investment of Rs 61.21 crore is being set up at Kamptee in Nagpur district. It will create 575 new jobs. KCL industries is making an investment of Rs 501 crore and will provide 1,200 jobs. A senior MIDC officer said that the industrial growth was not restricted to the Mumbai-Pune-Nashik belt, but was also moving towards Marathwada and Vidarbha. On Monday, deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal suggested that there must be overall development of the state. Meta Rolls and Commodities is setting up another plant in the Tadali industrial area of Chandrapur at a cost of Rs 87 crore (650 new jobs), Vaishnav Casting Private Limited is coming up with a factory at the Dindori MIDC area of Nashik by spending Rs 110 crore (710 jobs), Laurel Wires will create 285 new jobs by setting up a unit in Avdhan, Dhule by spending Rs 30 crore. Bedmutha Wire Company will set up a plant in Dhule with an investment of Rs 152.90 crore and 150 new jobs. Darda said that Polygenta Technologies, which produces yarn will create 200 new jobs with its new unit at the Dindori MIDC area of Nashik at a cost of Rs 270 crore.

Somewhere in Mumbai....

With a portion of the skywalk recently being opened to the public near Santa Cruz station, pedestrians no longer have to jostle for space on the street .


ASI information

3G auction update

The bids for third-generation (3G) spectrum in prime circles are close to ‘irrational’ levels after 13 days of auctions, analysts tracking the sale process said. The cost of a pan-India 3G licence is nearing Rs 8,000 crore, but this price is largely driven by a handful of circles. For instance, bids for Delhi and Mumbai have crossed the Rs 1,000 crore mark, up over 300% from the base price, while other regions like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are inching towards the mark. Bids are surpassing ‘rational levels’, Citigroup analysts said in report last week when the cost of a pan-India 3G licence crossed $1.3 billion. Since then, the bid price has shot up another $500 million to close the week at $1.8 billion. On the other hand, nearly half the country has seen almost no demand for 3G airwaves, which allow telecom companies to offer faster data and internet services on mobiles. Analysts also said the aggressive bidding in the top circles has reached a stage where smaller operators will feel the strain on their balance sheets.

Somewhere in Navi Mumbai....

Chennai are the Super Kings of IPL 3 beating the home team Mumbai Indians.

Somewhere in Vadodara....

This priest climbs a ladder at Vadodara’s Laheripura gate every morning and performs puja of Lord Ganesha’s idol installed at the historic gate. The impressive structure of Laheripura with its beautiful arches was erected in 16th century by Khalil Khan, son of Mehmud Begda, the sultan of Gujarat .

Namma Metro : work in progress

Bangalore's Metro in the works.


IPL 3 Finals

Its the day of reckoning....Mumbai Indians v Chennai Super Kings. Royal Challengers Bangalore beat the Deccan Chargers to grab the third spot.
Random information on the IPL...on and off the field. Fun, Sport, Competition, Advertisements, Black money, Match fixing, Power, Ego Clashes, Glitz, Glamour, Income Tax Raids, Parliamentary Debates, Kickbacks......

Kolkata joins global LED streetlight trial project

Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) launched a pilot project to instal LED streetlights along nine important roads of the city. With this, Kolkata finds itself in an elite league of cities undertaking a global LED trial programme. Besides KMC, the project is being carried out by the Union government’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) and West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB). The global LED programme is being run by an international non-profit organisation — The Climate Group. As part of the project, 350-odd LED lights will be installed along nine important stretches, including Alipore Road, Belvedere Road, Bondel Gate flyover and others. “The total project cost is Rs 1.33 crore and the lights will be installed in the next one and a half months. About 40%-50% of energy will be saved by using LED streetlights,” said KMC member mayor-in-council (lights) Sushil Sharma. Mayor Bikash Bhattacharyya said saving electricity was a big challenge. “I have been repeatedly trying to develop the practice of keeping lights and fans switched off as much as possible in the KMC building to save energy, but have not been able to succeed. I have also been urging my officials that something should be done to prevent misuse of energy,” he added. The mayor stressed that the city’s lighting arrangements needed to be revamped. “I have once had the experience of hearing a cuckoo sing as early at 3 am. This is because the cuckoos are being affected by the huge sodium vapour lights. It is also a major cause for concern that streetlights often continue to remain switched on after dawn. We are spending crores every month on electricity supply. By conserving some amount of energy, we can save about Rs 1 crore. This money could then be used for other civic welfare services,” the mayor said. With the launch of the LED project, Kolkata joins a select group of cities such as New York, London, Hong Kong, Toronto and Shanghai in the HSBC Climate Partnership-funded global programme. It is the first Indian city to be part of the league.

Phase I of Mumbai's new integrated airport terminal

The first phase of the Mumbai’s new airport terminal — that will ultimately see all passenger and airline activity shift to Andheri — will be open to the public by the end of this year. In its first step towards the opening of the integrated terminal, the south-west pier will be linked to the existing international terminal building and function as a post check-in area for a few foreign carriers. Passengers can look forward to a more comfortable journey as the terminal will have six aerobridges and retail outlets. A spokesperson for the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) confirmed the opening of the new facility: “The south-west pier is basically one arm of the X-shaped terminal. It is a postsecurity area with boarding bridges, retail outlets, etc.’’ This part of the terminal will be similar to the domestic terminal 1C, which was inaugurated a week ago, and will function as a security hold and boarding area. So, while passengers will continue to checkin from the existing terminal, they can move to the comfort of the south-west pier after collecting their boarding passes and clearing security. The international airport at Sahar was divided into terminals 2A, 2B and 2C. The new arm of the terminal will be located where terminal 2A once stood; it was demolished in 2009 as part of the MIAL’s plans for the integrated terminal. “The construction of the entire X-shaped terminal is being undertaken in a phased manner while the airport is still operational. The authorities will gradually shift operations to the new terminal as and when each phase is complete,’’ said an official. The final X-shaped terminal building, which will be complete by 2012, will have four levels, spread across an area of 4.3 million square metres. Around 50 additional check-in counters, 56 passenger boarding bridges, 14 reclaim belts and a car park with a capacity for more than 5,000 vehicles are some of the features the new terminal will have. “The construction of this terminal has already begun and will be completed to accommodate 40 million passengers annually, compared to the current 30-35 million,’’ said a senior MIAL official. “The area in Santa Cruz, where the domestic terminal is currently located will be completely phased out with respect to flight operations. It will be used either for commercial activity or for a separate cargo complex,’’ he added. The X-shaped terminal has been touted as an engineering marvel. Some of the roof structures covering the terminal building will each be about 8 lakh square feet in area. Passengers will have to wait till 2012, but we can a get a taste of what’s to come when the southwest pier opens for business in the coming months.

Somewhere in Mumbai....

The city’s first Metro train with four coaches for the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) corridor arrived at a private port—GTI adjacent to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT). The train has been taken to Metro’s Versova depot. Equipped with air-conditioned coaches, sophisticated video and audio communication systems and a black box, the train has a unique lubrication system that spreads liquid on the track while taking turns, thus keeping noise levels to only 62 decibels. The spanking new silverpink rake, covered in a plastic, was sailed in from Shanghai in China where it was designed and manufactured by CSR Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock Co Ltd. The Reliance Infrastructure (R-Infra)-led MMOPL has given contract to CSR Nanjing to manufacture 16 rakes for this corridor, being built at Rs 2,356 crore. Violia Transport, France, is the consortium partner with RInfra. The corridor, 60% civic construction work of which is over, will have 12 stations.


Pune Metro update

The Maharashtra state government has endorsed the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) stand to build the 14.925-km second corridor of the metro railway from Vanaz on Paud road to Ramwadi on Ahmednagar road without waiting for the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation’s go-ahead. “The first corridor runs between the PMC and the PCMC limits. The PCMC has not responded to the PMC’s proposal. If the PMC needs a metro quickly and cannot wait for the PCMC to decide, the state has no problems,” urban development department’s (UDD) principal secretary T C Benjamin said. A high-powered committee led by state chief secretary J P Dange will look into the project which will be implemented through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had recommended its model for Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. The report suggested the execution of the project on two corridors. The first corridor is from the PCMC building to Swargate while the second will run from Vanaz to Ramwadi. The 75-km project encompasses Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad involving both civic bodies. However, the PMC will build the second corridor, which falls in its jurisdiction, first and not wait for the PCMC’s consent. The PCMC had recently sought a detailed project report from the DMRC for the metro which would fall in its area. The PMC standing committee had decided to build the metro railway on the Vanaz-Ramwadi corridor last month. The project will cost Rs 2,281 crore (including taxes). The civic body will contribute 10 per cent and get 40 per cent from the state and the Centre and source the rest from private players. “The state government is okay with PMC’s stand. The standing committee has already approved the resolution to implement the project in the second corridor. The state government has asked the PMC to place the proposal before the general body for discussion and then forward it to us. We will place the proposal before the cabinet so that execution of the project can start immediately,” Benjamin said. “With the state, the Centre and the PMC’s contribution, the loan component needed could fetch sufficient funds for the execution of the second corridor. The standing committee has also resolved that the metro corridor be extended to Kharadi and Chandannagar,” he added. Standing committee chairman Arvind Shinde, said, “The proposal for the metro railway from Vanaz to Ramwadi has been placed before the general body. It will be approved as soon as possible.” The civic body wants local representation in the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). “Local representation will sort out any problems in the project. We are mulling the structure of the SPV,” said Shinde. An SPV called the ‘Pune Metro Rail Corporation (PMRC)’ will be formed as per the Companies Act, 1956 and representatives of the state and central government would be appointed as directors. Benjamin said the proposal for the SPV has not yet been forwarded by the civic body. “The project has already been delayed. The state will not keep any proposal pending,” he added. The final draft submitted to the PMC by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in June 2009 says that the state government was to approve the plan in June, while the central government was to give its consent by August. A tendering system was scheduled for October 2009, after which work was to begin. The plan perceived the metro for Pune by May 30, 2014, while the total 75-km network for Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad would be ready by the end of 2014.
May 2006: Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar says he will look into a metro rail project for Pune, provided the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations submitted a combined plan.
November 2006 : A proposal is tabled before the PMC’s standing committee to get a detailed project report from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) to implement the metro.
August 2007: Municipal commissioner Pravinsinh Pardeshi says the PMC will not opt for an underground metro rail system as it was very costly.
May 2009: Civic activists, town planners and experts oppose the PMC’s move that envisaged 4 FSI for a 500m area on either sides of the 31.5 km proposed route.
June 2009: The DMRC submits a final draft for the metro rail project to the civic body recommending its model for Pune as it had an edge over the public-private partnership (PPP) and build-operate-transfer (BOT) models.
August 2009: Chief minister Ashok Chavan assures funding for the project.
December 2009: The Pune Metro Sahakarya Samiti (PMSS), a citizens’ forum comprising transport experts, writes to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee asking him to look into the ‘technology scam’ in the Pune metro project.
January 2010: The standing committee of the PMC approves the DPR. The general body too okays the DPR. All parties including the NCP, Congress, BJP, Shiv Sena and MNS support the proposal.
February 2010: The metro proposal finds no mention in Pranab Mukherjee’s Budget speech. Allocations are made for the Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai projects.
March 2010 : The standing committee resolves to begin the metro railway on the proposed 14.925 km corridor from Vanaz to Ramwadi. The Pune Technical Coalition (PTC), a conglomeration of architects, engineers, town planners, builders and other organisations demands that the shortcomings be addressed. The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) asks the DMRC to prepare a project report for the metro route along the Pune-Mumbai highway which falls within the PCMC limits.
April 2010: The PMC standing committee decides that a special purpose vehicle be formed to implement the project. Kuldeep Singh, a consultant for the Delhi and Bangalore projects, says Pune’s project is “devoid of options and needs an intelligent appraisal”.

PCMC building to Swargate -Underground: 5.019 km Elevated: 11.570 km Total: 16.589 km Stations: Nine elevated and six underground Status: Put on hold by the PMC

Vanaz to Ramwadi Underground: Nil Elevated: 14.925 km Stations: 15 elevated ones Status: The PMC’s standing committee has approved the project The project cost- The second corridor between Vanaz and Ramwadi will cost Rs 1,948 crore (excluding taxes) and Rs 2,281 crore (including taxes). As per the detailed project report (DPR), the PCMC and the PMC were to contribute 5 per cent each to the project. However, the PMC will contribute 10 per cent, while the state and the Centre will contribute 20 per cent each. The remaining 50 per cent will be sourced from private players.

Mysore airport set for action

Mysore’s airport is inching closer for commercial launch. Days after Union civil aviation minister Praful Patel stepped in to get it off the ground, there are indications that a private operator could be moving the civil aviation ministry with the flight plan, a prerequisite for the commercial operations of the facility. The AAI facility has handled 160 chartered flights in a year since April 2009. This has indicated the potential and significance the tourism hub has for air traffic. Now, the Mysore Zone of the Confederation of Indian Industry which has conducted a survey has figures to back the projection. Mysore’s business believes there’s a profitable opportunity for airlines to have an early morning and a late night flight between Mysore and Bangalore. The CII survey found that 75% of the respondents favoured “catchment flights” to Bangalore that would allow Mysoreans to catch connecting flights to places like Delhi or Mumbai, and similarly a late night flight from Bangalore for Mysoreans coming from those destinations. A flight at about 5 am, which would take about 35 minutes to reach Bangalore and cost about Rs 3,000, is being seen as a viable proposition.
First favoured destination Bangalore
Second favoured destination for a flight was Chennai
Flights to Hyderabad and Mumbai came in as third preference

Mumbai's Eastern Freeway update

Mumbai’s first twin traffic tunnel is coming up at the foot of a hill at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). Workers are toiling to complete the project before December end. The twin tunnels are approximately 500 metres each. They are 17-metre wide and 10-metre in height and will have four carriageways in each tunnel. Commissioner of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Ratnakar Gaikwad, said the twin tunnel is part of the four-lane Eastern Freeway Project which starts near P D’Mello Road and will go on to the Mumbai Port Trust road before joining the Eastern Express Highway via the Anik Panjrapole Link Road near Wadala. MMRDA officials said the cost of the twin tunnels will amount to Rs 54 crore while the Anik Panjrapole Link Road will cost Rs 221 crore. The cost of the entire Eastern Expressway will come to Rs 531 crore. The officials said the project’s second phase will link the Anik Panjrapole Link Road with Ghatkopar, making access for the people who live in the eastern suburbs easier. Joint metropolitan commissioner, Ashwini Bhide, said the land for the project has been acquired from the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and BARC. “The MMRDA had to re-route the HPCL aviation fuel pipeline and a new boundary wall was built for the BARC land.’’ Bhide said the freeway has two of its sections built as an elevated bridge. It has 7 km of its roadway through the Mumbai Port Trust land as an overhead bridge. A 3-km elevated section at the Ghatkopar end has been planned. “Once completed, the 21-km Eastern Freeway Project will make the commute easier for people who travel between south Mumbai and the eastern suburbs,’’ she said.

Iconic Wadala tower scaled down

The iconic tower planned for Mumbai, which at one time promised to be the world’s third tallest building—behind the Burj Dubai and the under-construction Freedom Tower in New York—will now be nowhere near these global landmarks. In fact, the MMRDA had earlier scaled back the plans for the tower in Wadala from 101 storeys (526 to 531m) to 85 to 89 storeys (430 to 460m). At that time, it still promised to be the eighth tallest building in the world, behind the Sears Tower in Chicago. But plans have been further scaled back to 75 to 80 floors (260 to 300 m). Buildings of that height rank from 37 to 75 in the world’s tallest lists. In the city, too, the Wadala tower is no longer the tallest project on paper, though it would rank fairly high.

Kasuri's K deal

For most people, Kashmir is an intractable problem dividing India and Pakistan. What they don’t know is that the two countries have actually an accord on Kashmir ready and had almost unveiled it in 2007. Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, who was Pervez Musharraf ’s foreign minister from 2002 to 2007, said this hush-hush deal that was cobbled together through secret parleys held in India, Pakistan and several foreign capitals for more than three years and could have resolved the sub-continent’s thorniest security and political dispute, had not the anti-Musharraf upsurge triggered by the sacking of the chief justice convulsed Pakistan. Kasuri said he has never spoken of this track-II success earlier, other than saying he knew of a possible way to resolve the Kashmir problem that was acceptable to both countries. Kasuri said in an exclusive interview that negotiators from Islamabad and New Delhi had quietly toiled for three years, talking to each other and Kashmiri representatives from the Indian side as well as Kashmiris settled overseas to reach what he described as the “only possible solution to the Kashmir issue’’. He said the two sides had agreed to full demilitarisation of both Jammu & Kashmir as well as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which Islamabad refers to as Azad Kashmir. In addition, a package of loose autonomy that stopped short of the ‘azadi’ and self-governance aspirations, had been agreed upon and was to be introduced on both sides of the disputed frontier. “We agreed on a point between complete independence and autonomy,’’ he said. Kasuri said both countries, realizing the sensitivity of such a deal, had agreed not to declare victory or tom-tom the negotiations. Kasuri said that the hardline separatist, Sayeed Ali Shah Gilani, was the only Kashmiri leader who refused to come on board.


IIT's to teach medicine

Two months after the Health Ministry snubbed the IITs’ plan to offer courses in medicine, the Union HRD Ministry is all set to amend the IIT Act to allow IITs to start medical schools. IIT-Kharagpur, IIT-Madras and the newly set up IIT-Hyderabad are all seriously mulling offering courses in medicine. IIT-Kharagpur had, in fact, signed an MoU with University of California, San Diego, last year to help it set up a medical college.

Rebirth of Adyar Creek

Pied kingfishers, yellow wagtails, egrets, white-bellied sea eagles, chestnut-winged cuckoos, black-winged stilts... A waterbody, once a dumping site laden with tonnes of debris and gallons of sewage, has begun attracting migratory birds, thanks to Tamil Nadu's ambitious restoration of the ecologically sensitive Adyar creek. The Adyar Poonga Trust (rechristened as Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust (CRRT) recently) is racing against time to complete the first phase of restoration of the 58-acre stretch, one of Chennai’s most eco-sensitive spots, before November this year. “It was a filthy place, with debris strewn around. Cattle was being reared by neighbouring slum dwellers and antisocials made merry in the area that was full of thickets. Initial assessment of the creek area was, in fact, done from the nearby high-rise structures because no one could enter the poonga (creek),” says an official associated with the project. CRRT had to excavate 150,000 tonnes of construction debris and garbage from the site to create a water body embellished with earthern pathways, wooden bridges, signage and bamboo pavilions. About 91,280 plants of various species are being planted inside at locations such as the entrance plaza, swale area near Town Planning Scheme Road, on the rear side of Ambedkar Manimandapam and along Santhome entrance plaza. About 37,600 reeds are being planted along the water margins. Artificial mounds have been created in the creek to act as a barrier to sound pollution. “Adyar poonga is a fulcrum for environmental education,” says K Phanindra Reddy, member secretary, Chennai Rivers Restoration Project. As part of the educational reach programme, eco-clubs are being set up in neighbouring schools and colleges by the Trust. “Adyar creek will eventually become a model for restoration of water bodies, including Cooum and Adyar,” Reddy claimed. As part of the restoration, the CRRT also plans to have a green centre in the erstwhile fisheries building near Ramakrishna Mutt Road. “An audio visual room, environmental education centre, library to document creek activities, laboratory to check water quality, a souvenir shop, coffee corner, all form part of the centre,” Reddy said. Restoration work will soon extend into the estuary spreading over an area of 300 acres. Initially spearheaded by the Chennai Corporation and supported by the Tamil Nadu Road Development Company Ltd, this project was conceived to restore the fragile eco-system of the Adyar estuary and creek and raise awareness among the public about the environment. The estuary has been a topic of furious discussion among ecologists and environmentalists for a long time now. Adyar river, one of the three major waterways in Chennai apart from Cooum and Buckingham Canal, is where migratory birds flock the most. According to Madras Naturalists Society secretary K V Sudhakar, “the area where the river and the sea meet is a major feeding ground for birds as it is rich in many organisms. A few years ago, our society recorded the presence of over 200 different species in the creek,” he added. But the restoration project is seen by critics as excessive development work around a natural ecosystem which needs to be left alone. “Restoration of the creek would mean bringing the creek back to its natural condition. I would like to call this a transformation project where an existing natural ecosystem is being engineered into a tourist spot,” said Nityanand Jayaraman, a freelance journalist and an environmentalist. According to Nityanand, the marshlands of Adyar creek is being turned into an artificial freshwater ecosystem in the process. On the other hand, Sudhakar, says the project is a step in the right direction. “All the trees being planted are native, and the people who have undertaken the work know what they are doing,” he said. Referring to the massive real estate development that Chennai is witnessing, he said the ongoing measures would evoke interest in saving the creek. “With this project, you are bringing in the public, who will see what they are losing and take an interest in saving it . Awareness is very important.”
THE RIVER The 42-km-long Adyar river originates in the Chembarambakkam Lake in Chengalpet and joins the Bay of Bengal at the Adyar estuary
1798 : Adyar finds position in a British map as a suburb
1840 : Construction of Elphinstone bridge, giving access to the southern bank of Adyar river 1867 : Madras Boat Club set up. Rowing continues to be a popular sport on the river
1882 : Theosophists buy 28 acres on the southern bank of the river, the beginning of the creation of the 250-acre-Theosophical Society estate
1950s : Fisheries department takes over the creek area and sets up fish farms
1993 : Consumer Action Group, a city-based NGO, files a public interest litigation to maintain Adyar creek as a sanctuary, leading to the formation of the Adyar Poonga Trust . The state government sets up the Adyar Poonga Trust in 2006 with the aim of restoring the ecological balance of the Adyar creek and estuary. In phase I, 58 acres of Adyar creek are being restored

Cooch Behar Airport

The Cooch Behar Airport in North Bengal, on which the Airports Authority of India (AAI) spent more than Rs 20 crore, has no takers now. Even though the airport is ready for commercial flight operations, no airline is willing to operate flights to and from it, citing lack of passengers. A Tripura-based private airline and the erstwhile Air Deccan were scheduled to start operations from the airport in November 2009 and 2007 respectively. But AAI sources said the airlines lacked interest, perhaps owing to shortage of aircraft and apprehending poor commercial viability. “As of now, we are in talks with different airlines, which have small aircraft like the 18-seater Dornier-228. We are even ready to pay 50% for bookings, which means the government will keep nine of the seats in these aircraft for itself,” said state transport minister Ranjit Kundu. AAI sources said a private carrier based in South India is likely to be the best choice for the state government. If everything works fine, the airline can connect Jamshedpur and Kolkata via Cooch Behar. “With both Kingfisher and MDLR withdrawing operations, there is no air link with Jamshedpur. The civil aviation ministry is keen on an air link for the steel city with Delhi or Kolkata,” an official added. The airport presently has a 1,129-metre runway, which will be increased by more than 900 metres in the second phase. Mechanical engineering students of a reputable university will design a box bridge across the river Moratorsha, which will be part of the extended runway. The Cooch Behar Airport was first put to use in 1945 by Raja Nripendra Narayan, a local king, who operated flights for his personal use. In 1948, the airport was open to commercial carriers. Till 1962, several small private carriers like Himalayan Aviation, Darbhanga Airways, Kalinga Airways, Airways India, Bharat Airways and Jamir Airways operated from the airport. From 1972, the erstwhile Indian Airlines operated from here for three years. The airstrip was operational till 1994 with Vayudoot connecting the city with Kolkata. Since then, the people of the district had been clamouring for resumption of the service. The movement prompted chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to take up the issue with the Union civil aviation ministry and the AAI in 2007 and the later allotted Rs 20 crore for the airport revamp. The airport is located around 2 km from the city of the city that has already been declared as a ‘heritage city’ by the Centre. It is around 180 km from Bagdogra. Bhutan and other important tourist spots of North Bengal are also connected with the airport by road. “If the airport is properly marketed, it can be a good alternative for Bagdogra airport that has several time restrictions owing to an army base,” Singhal added.

INS Shivalik

Stealth, or deception, has always been a gamechanger in warfare. With India’s first indigenously-designed and manufactured ‘stealth’ frigate INS Shivalik finally all set to be commissioned on April 29, the Navy is steaming ahead to induct even stealthier warships. The new advanced stealth warships will include seven frigates under Project-17A and four guided-missile destroyers under Project-15B, which in all will cost upwards of Rs 65,000 crore. Navy, in fact, wants to induct all these seven advanced frigates by 2020 for a greater blue-water warfare punch. With the government according “acceptance of necessity” in June 2009, the seven frigates will be built at Mazagon Docks in Mumbai and GRSE in Kolkata with “integrated construction technology.” Apart from the indigenous efforts to turn stealthy, Navy is also going to get three more stealth frigates (Teg, Tarkash and Trikhand) from Russia under a Rs 5,514-crore project from 2011-2012 onwards, which will add to the three such warships (Talwar, Trishul and Tabar) already inducted in 2003-2004. Navy’s endeavour is to go in for warships with ‘minimal’ radar, infra-red, noise, frequency and magnetic ‘signatures’ to beat enemy detection and radar systems. “This ensures reduced detection and lock-on ranges for hostile anti-ship missiles and underwater weapons,” said director-general of naval design, Rear Admiral K N Vaidyanathan. “We are already working on the designs for P-17A and P-15B warships,which will have much more stealth and advanced weapon systems. The challenge is to drastically lower the signature of even their weapon systems (by hiding them under the deck),” he added. All this will, of course, follow completion of Project-17 to build three Shivalik-class stealth frigates for Rs 8,101 crore and Project-15A to construct three Kolkata-class 6,640-tonne destroyers for Rs 11,662 crore, both underway at Mazagon Docks. While both projects have suffered from time and cost overruns, Navy is now confident of getting the next two frigates, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, in 2010-2011. The three destroyers, in turn, will be delivered by 2012-2014. For now, Navy is all excited about the multi-role INS Shivalik, which is armed with a deadly mix of foreign and indigenous weapon and sensor systems to deal with "multiple-threats" in all three dimensions -- air, surface and sub-surface. While INS Shivalik has the Russian Shtil surface-to-air missile systems, Klub anti-ship cruise missiles, the 10-km range Israeli 'Barak-I' anti-missile point defence systems, Navy says the 143-metre long frigate is over 60% indigenous. "In terms of stealth, it compares with the best frigates in the world at present. It 'paints' quite small on radar screens of other warships," said Rear Admiral Vaidyanathan.



RBI tweaks rates

The RBI starts tightening....rates are upped a bit.

UP all set to become Expressway Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh is giving a massive boost the state's road infrastructure, starting with work on four major expressways. This would not only transform the state's landscape dramatically, but also spur industrial and agriculture development.
GangaExpressway (Sanauta Bridge-Ballia) : The 1,047-km-long, eight-lane access-controlled Ganga Expressway project that would run on the left embankment of river Ganga from Greater Noida, at one end of Uttar Pradesh, to Ballia, at its eastern end. The existing connectivity in this stretch is through two or four-lane national and state highways,which in most of the stretches are congested and in a dilapidated condition. Initially visualised as a marginal bund along the left bank of Ganga, it was supposed to mitigate the recurring problem of floods that inundated large parts of the state resulting in loss of fertile land, crops,life and property every year.But soon enough, the bund was proposed to be utilised for the construction of an access controlled eight-lane state-of-the-art expressway to cater to the traffic demands of the region which would also open new areas for development between the developed areas of NCR and backward areas of eastern UP.It is also expected to bring down the travel time between these two places to ten hours from the present 20 hours. Gradually, it took the shape of a grand Rs 40,000 crore project, which could not only help flood control and boost the road infrastructure of UP,but also transform the country’s highway landscape dramatically. It was not only the first time in the country that an infrastructure project of this dimension was being visualised for commission by the private sector through the public-private partnership (PPP) model, but it was also the fastest project to get off the ground and be tendered out to a developer.Announced by chief minister Mayawati in September 2007, this greenfield project was awarded to Jaypee Group in January 2008. The Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority(UPEIDA),the nodal body setup to monitor the construction of expressways in the state, formally assigned the expressway to Jaypee Ganga Infrastructure Corporation Ltd in March,2008 with a concession period of 35 years (including construction period of four years) on design, build, finance and operate (DBFO) basis. The concession agreement empowered the concessionaire to collect the toll during the concession period and UPEIDA was to provide the concessionaire 12,281 hectaresof additional land for development as eight landparcels at Bulandshahar, Kanshiram Nagar, Unnao, Rae Bareli, Pratapgargh, Allahabad, Varanasi, and Mirzapur with a floor area ratio (FAR)of 2.5. This land for development is to be allotted on lease for a period of 90 years.
However, right from its inception, the project was beset with setbacks. Apart from getting the alignment of the expressway approved and facing stiff opposition from farmers alleging that earmarking almost 80% of fertile farmland was a land grab, there were allegations galore by opposition parties that the Bahujan Samaj Party government led by Mayawati had awarded the project to the Jaypee group dubiously . Infact, the project also faced flak on the ecology front in May 2009 when a Varanasi-based social organisation, Ganga Mahasabha,filed a petition in the Allahabad High Court stating that the expressway project would expose large parts of the state to environmental hazards. Passing an order, a division bench of the Allahabad High Court restrained the state government from proceeding with the project and directed it to obtain prior environmental clearance from the state-level Environment Impact Assessment Authority before proceeding with the construction work. In the meantime, while actual groundwork has been halted by the court's orders, the Jaypee group is in the process of getting a fresh environment clearance from the state's Environment Impact Assessment Authority . It has also completed a detailed survey of 992 km of the expressway , and survey of the remaining 57.4 km will becompleted shortly . While the company has also achieved the financial closure of Ganga Expressway project in December 2008, the estimated cost of the project has overshot many times. It would be completed in almost five years from the date of commencement of work.
In fact, the project, which was seen as an engine of transformation for the state's economy, is presently caught up in the debate of development versus destruction. While the chief argument in favour of the project is that since the expressway will be constructed on the embankment on the left bank of the river Ganga, which is more prone to floods, it would give relief to millions of flood-affected people and also benefit the farmers of these areas who will get the opportunity to grow two crops instead of one. This in turn will improve their financial status.In addition, it is expected to lead to an economic revolution, as by providing fast connectivity through the expressway ,it will be an added boon,especially to transport perishable goods like vegetable and fruits from the hinterlands of the eastern parts of the state to the national capital. The eight selected landparcels,too,will usher in a wave of development in the form of infrastructure facilities like electricity , water, roads, health services, educational institutions and housing.It will also lead to industrial development.As many as 20 ITIs, ten polytechnics and five engineering level institutes, along with a medical college and various paramedical schools, are also expected to be established. In fact, hundreds of agro-based large and small-scale industries will also be established that would directly benefit farmers. It is expected that seven to eight lakh persons will either reside or work in these areas in the next ten years. To serve them, commercial establishments, shops, hotels, bus stations, truck terminus,buses and taxies will also operate, giving employment to more people.
However, concurrently , there are many arguments against the project, too. The chief among them being that if the flow of the Ganga will be tampered with the project would become an environmental catastrophe. Another is the destruction of millions of acres of fertile land in the Ganga Yamuna doab, leading to food security issues later on.
The Ganga Expressway Length : 1049.395 kms .It is divided into 4 packages .
Package-I (Including Link Road-1) Gautam Buddha Nagar to Farrukhabad Length 272.44 Km.
Package-II (Including Link Road-2) Farrukhabad to Dalmau Length -326.36 Km.
Package-III Dalmau to Aurai (Including Link Road-3 ) Length 237.93 Km.
Package-IV Aurai to Ballia Length -212.665 Km.
Yamuna Expressway (Greater Noida-Agra) :Touted to be a landmark project, is fast nearing completion. The Rs 1,200 crore 165 km-long six-lane access-controlled expressway from Greater Noida to Agra was conceived way back in 2003 by the then Mayawati government to not only reduce the travel time from the NCR to the Taj city,but also to open up new vistas of industrial and urban growth in the region. But soon, the Mulayam Singh Yadav government that came to power in November 2003 halted work on it and constituted one inquiry committee after another to look into charges that Mayawati had committed irregularities in awarding the project to Jaiprakash Associates,the concessionaire of the project.
However,the first inquiry committee headed by Justice Ranganath Mishra was disbanded by the high court, as was the second one headed by former chief vigilance commissioner VS Mathur.The third committee,headed by Justice S Narayan, in its report, not only rebutted all the allegations but also called the project a “landmark event for the industrial development of Uttar Pradesh.” Soon after being exonerated by the commission, work on the expressway began again in 2006.
And when Mayawati came back to power in May 2007, instructions were given to speed up the pace of the work and have the project completed before the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October 2010. Work on acquiring 25,000 hectares of land for the land parcels is also going on simultaneously. The land in Agra and Tappal, in Aligarh, meanwhile,will be acquired after the high court gives its verdict. The court has reserved its judgement on a plea by farmers that the state government had used the emergency clause in acquiring land for the project.
A senior state government official said: “This road will not only provide a speedy, hassle-free 100 minute travel till Agra city but will also dodge the bottlenecks of the city to provide a smooth ride till the Taj.” Indeed, generating more traffic in the region and better interconnectivity between the two end points has necessarily resulted in the entire stretch becoming an investor’s delight, complete with townships, export & economic zones and an international airport at Jewar.
The Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority,the agency in charge of accelerating the region’s overall development, has already envisaged a logistic hub spread over 500 acres along the expressway corridor and has also invited entrepreneurs to set up industrial, IT/ITES, bio-tech, institutional, sports,leisure or service industry facilities in the area.

Upper Ganga Expressway (Sanauta Bridge-Kanpur): After commissioning three expressways, the UP government has now given its approval for conducting technical and financial viability study for yet another ambitious expressway along the Upper Ganga Canal bank. The new expressway will start from Sanauta Bridge in Greater Noida and its end point will be Kanpur. Approximately 360-km long, it will pass through Bulandshahar, Aligarh, Etah, Mainpuri, Farrukhabad and Kanpur districts. The state Cabinet has given its in-principle approval for appointing a consultant and conducting a feasibility study on the project to UP Expressway Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA), the state's nodal agency for monitoring the construction of expressways. Working on the pattern of the Sanauta-Purkazi project, this expressway, too, is proposed to be developed on the state irrigation department land falling on the banks of the Upper Ganga Canal.According to officials, since land acquisition problem is the main stumbling block, the state government is thinking of providing government land for the project. "We are waiting for the consultant to give an indication as to how much land would be needed for the project. It would then be worked out as to how much land is already available with the state irrigation department and how much more is required," said a state government official. Over twice the size of the Sanauta-Purkazi expressway project, this stretch is the more ambitious one, as it will provide a six-lane, access-controlled travel through some densely populated areas that are currently connected by a network of congested state highways, major district roads and a national highway.
Not only will the proposed expressway provide an integrated road network in the region, enabling high-speed connectivity between industrial, commercial and residential hubs,but it is also expected to decongest the increasing traffic on the existing roads and lead to the development of local industry and handicrafts, develop tourism and pilgrimage, and open up new employment opportunities for millions.
Better and speedy connectivity to the national capital as well as to Uttarakhand will enable quick transportation of perishable goods like fruits, vegetables and dairy products, thereby setting off an economic boom, feel industry analysts.
Moreover, with Yamuna Expressway and Sanauta-Purkazi Upper Ganga Canal Expressway already being functional by the time this expressway comes up, interconnectivity within the state would become very easy .That in itself would foster the growth of industry and lead to economic prosperity . At present, work on the project is on at a breakneck speed, but officials close to the concessionaire state that while the first 60-km stretch from both ends will be completed by September this year, the remaining right-of-way in-between would take a few more months till March 2011. It will be followed by the completion of the entire project, replete with land parcels, by April 2013. After having faced bitter protests on land acquisition for the Yamuna and Ganga Expressways, the UP government has now come up with a module for development in which government land would be given to the selected developer free of cost so that the project gets fast, controversy-free commissioning. Proposed to be built on the PPP mode, the eight-laned, access-controlled, 150-km-long Upper Ganga Canal Expressway would run on the right bank of the canal from Sanauta bridge in Greater Noida to Purkazi on the Uttarakhand border. It will connect with the proposed Meerut International Airport-DFC terminal link expressway and the Purkazi-Deoband link expressway . It would traverse Bulandshahar, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur districts of the state. The feasibility study is complete and the project is now in its bidding stage. Shortlisting of bidders is in the process.
By making available almost the entire right-of-way land for the trunk expressway free of cost, in addition to giving another 100 hectares of land free for building wayside amenities, the state government has not only facilitated work from the day the developer is handed over the project, but also opened the floodgates of heavy revenue earning, as the developer will have 100% revenue earning rights.
Facing no bottlenecks, the project has as an added incentive seven hydropower projects on the canal. It also has the option of probing the scope of navigation facility along the canal, both for tourism and commercial use. According to estimates, these hyrdo projects, having a total capacity of 37.4 mw, have the potential to generate a revenue of Rs 22.35 crore annually for 35 years of the concession period. Power generated can be used for the planned townships, while excess capacity can be sold in the open market. Apart from this source of revenue, the developer can collect toll from seven toll plazas across the expressway . Traffic is expected to grow manifold once the expressway is complete, as it will provide the shortest possible route from the national capital to the hill state of Uttarakhand.
The concessionaire will also have the rights on the land parcels for 90 years. It can also sub-lease the land for development. Land parcels will not only fetch very good real estate value, but also have the potential to attract the development of hi-tech modern townships, especially in and around the NCR. As a sweetener, the state government has declared that the maximum floor area ratio (FAR) can be stretched up to 2.5 times.
The project,which is to be built on DBFOT pattern, has a combined estimated cost of Rs 8,182 crore. While the cost for the expressway will be Rs 7,485 crore, the seven proposed hydropower projects will cost Rs 262 crore. If the navigation facility is also undertaken, its development cost would be Rs 435 crore,thereby taking the entire project cost to Rs 8,182 crore. It will have a concession period of 35 years.
While as many as 30-odd companies, including Reliance Infrastructure, Jaypee Infratech, Tata Realty and Infrastructure, GVK Power & Infrastructure, IRB Infrastructure Development, Nagarjuna Infrastructure, Punj Lloyd, Lanco Infrastrech and others, have showed initial interest in getting the bid rights for the project, the request for qualification evaluation report has qualified five applicants. They are: Era-Sibmost JV , DSC-Apollo JV , IRB Infrastructure Developers, Jaiprakash Associates and a consortium of Reliance Infrastructure and Reliance Infraventures.
To make the project more lucrative, the Mayawati government has roped in the Noida Authority to connect the incoming traffic from Yamuna Expressway to the Upper Ganga Canal Expressway through a link road from Pari Chowk. In this way, traffic from Agra to Delhi can have direct access till Haridwar and the Delhi traffic,too,can have an express corridor to ease its burgeoning traffic.The project will not only provide faster connectivity between industrial and commercial hubs in the state, but also bring in economic growth. Though the expressway would cross NH 24 and 58, it will not run parallel to any of the existing roads and would cater to the traffic having different origins and destinations.
Assured of the viability of the project, the state government has decided to ask builders to pay back the state from their revenue stream. "The state government will give first preference to bids offering negative grant," said a senior state government official.

Somewhere in Guwahati....

Residents use inflatable boats to rescue flood affected people in Guwahati . The city is facing a harrowing time due to incessant rain for the last 5 days .

CST makeover snippets

The master plan to convert the historic and Grade-1 heritage Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) into a world-class station is finally complete and ready to be presented to the Railway Board in Delhi. Highly-placed sources said that a meeting to this effect has been scheduled for April 30. Railway officials at the zonal headquarters of Central Railway (CR) situated at CST have zeroed in on the most “ambitious’’ of the three blue prints that where drawn up a few months ago by consultants AREP, France. Each of the plans had outlined how the terminus and its circulating area could be modified so as to improve the citizen’s travel experience and provide ample space for the growing number of commuters. The plan finally chosen by CR officials has the most “extravagant detailing’’ and offers the best structural changes, said the source, adding that it was by far, the most popular choice. The most significant component is the construction of an iconic building in the middle of the suburban and nonsuburban tracks, after the present arrangement is remade at the terminus’s north end. The yards, maintenance sidings and small office sheds currently housed in that area will be shifted to the nearby Wadibunder yard. The iconic building, which will be one of the most defining points of the project, will be built so as to increase the importance of CST. And while it will not draw away from the historic beauty of the terminus, it will be a landmark in its own right, said the source. The construction of the building, however, will require final clearances from the UNESCO and the heritage committee as CST is a world heritage structure. Planners are keen on incorporating a modern architectural design for the tower and are yet to decide if it will house railway offices or be let out for commercial purposes. “Another plus point is that we can create space to commercially exploit Carnac Bunder,’’ the source added. Other crucial components of the plan include the provision for an elevated station building above the non-suburban lines. This new structure will house basic passenger amenities like waiting rooms, booking offices and so on. On the suburban side, platform one will be extended eastwards so as to increase its circulating area and merged with platform two. The platforms would also be pushed 45 m northwards in order to increase circulating space in the main concourse. That means CST will have one less platform from its existing 18. Non-suburban platforms would all be extended to hold 26 coach trains.

Urban green cover

The Maharashtra state government has handed all civic bodies specific rules for greenery in public areas—including roads, gardens, parks and playgrounds—as well as private plots. The rules are also applicable to government and semi-government offices, corporate houses and institutions. Society buildings must have a tree—of at least 15 ft height—on every 50 sq m of the mandatory open space, while other private plots need a tree every 100 sq m. Wider roads must have a tree along both sides every 10 m and narrower roads must have a tree every 20 m. Public gardens must have a tree every 20 sq m.