Thursday, January 29, 2009

TCR Masterplan Seminar Updates

The seminar was held on the 28th and 29th of January at our beautiful Kanakakunnu Palace. I had the opportunity to attend on both days and I believe it was a great success. Not only was there good participation from the concerned departments and agencies, but from NGOs and other organisations as well.

While the outcome of the Seminar is still being collated and it will take a long post to enumerate all the points which came out in two days of discussions and presentations, here is what I think is a fair upshot:

1) The Trivandrum Capital Region needs to be constituted at the earliest. It will consist not just of the TRIDA area but the surrounding muncipalities and urbanised panchayaths.

2) A detailed Master Plan needs to be prepared urgently taking the entire TCR into account. All effort will be put in to have a draft ready by Jan 2010 and final approval by Dec 2010.

3) Capability and human resource building needs to be done to formulate and implement the Master Plan.

4) A separate Development Agency could be constituted to implement the Master Plan. It was also suggested that TRIDA be expanded to take on this role.

5) The Master Plan will focus on new development areas like the IT Corridor and the Vizhinjam - Poovar area, as well as improve conditions within the core city area.

6) The Plan may have separate components for the Core City and the Suburbs.

7) The Master Plan will integrate multiple layers of planning and infrastructure such as land use, utilities, housing, mass transit, environment and heritage. It will also aim to provide benefit to all sections of the population and to minimise inequity.

8) The Master Plan will keep in mind demand levels in 2020 as a bare minimum and will look ahead till 2030 at least.

9) Public Private Partnership has been mooted at every level of project implementation. Resource mobilisation by the local bodies is also another important suggestion.

10) The ultimate aim of the Plan is a Trivandrum Metropolitan Region of at least 2 million population by 2020.

The Trivandrum Development Front was one of the NGOs which helped organise this event and it also made a presentation on the "Impact of Knowledge Industries on the TCR". The presentation is available for download using the link on the sidebar. (or you can go here) I request all of you to review it when you get time and let me know your thoughts.

Special thanks to all of you who took the time to send in your suggestions for the TCR Master Plan. Let me remind all of you that the suggestions are still being collated for final presentation to the Chief Minister and the Cabinet in a couple of weeks, so please do send in more of your thoughts so that we can pass them on to TRIDA. Thanks, folks!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Terminal Update Jan 22nd

T3 is headed for a May 2009 opening and work is progressing fast on the massive terminal and its 6-lane approach flyover.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Let's Shape the Future....

We have often discussed the need for a brand new Master Plan for Trivandrum which anticipates and accomodates the demand for the next 20 to 30 years. The plan currently in effect is nearly 30 years old!

In October 2008, prominent NGO's including TDF, EDIT, CCDF, FRAT and TRAC aproached Trivandrum Development Authority (TRIDA) with the urgent need for a new Master Plan. TRIDA was very receptive to the idea. After several rounds of discussions, it has been decided to conduct a comprehensive Seminar where the direction of growth of the city, the consequent demand for urban facilities and the strategy to cater to the growth will be discussed in detail by leading experts in the field as well as people's representatives including Ministers, MPs and MLAs. The Seminar, scheduled for January 28th and 29th, 2009, will aim to create a white paper that will form the foundation for the Master Plan for the Trivandrum Capital Region.

This is possibly the best chance in a long time for all of us to make a contribution to how our city will evolve in the years to come. Time to put our thoughts to good use!!

I am honored to be one of the speakers invited to speak at the seminar, where I will be presenting a look-ahead at how the IT and Knowledge Industries will develop in the Trivandrum Capital Region, on behalf of the Trivandrum Development Front.

Please chip in with all your valuable suggestions at the earliest. A dedicated page to the seminar has been launched on the TDF website. Please let us have all your suggestions by January 26th, so that we can collate and present them at the seminar. Looking forward to hearing from all your development stalwarts out there. Thanks in advance, folks!

(I have added a link to the idea submission page on the sidebar)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Missed @ IFFK 2008

The festival was loads of fun. not the just the films themselves but the whole atmosphere and the inevitable discussions and heated debates about the films, the popcorn and what-not.

In the midst of a busy week, with office work piling up despite being on vacation and with preparations for a week-long trip to Lucknow, I couldn't watch as many as movies as I would have loved to. Some of the notable misses were The Speed of Light, Colors Passion, Firaaq, Blindness and Laila's Birthday.

I was pretty happy to find out that IFFK had made a significant impact on the blogosphere and not just through domestic blogs. People like Juan have written about IFFK and their experiences there. However, I was a little bit disappointed by what I felt was relatively scanty coverage of what is Kerala's top international cultural event on many Kerala-specific blogs. A lot more was devoted to a few casual remarks made by the Kerala CM at around the same time.

The one thing which a lot of people, not just me, would have missed is the much talked-about "permanent venue" for IFFK. Last year, the buzz was that Tagore Theatre would be converted into a multiplex for the festival. Earlier, similar proposals were afoot for Kalabhavan and Kanakakunnu, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately, these seem to vanish as soon as the curtains fall on the last show of each year's IFFK.

While it is a nice idea having venues spread across the city from the point of view of ensuring that the many visitors from outside Trivandrum get a chance to see a significant part of it, the need for a permanent venue with multiple screens is an undeniable one. This will ease the travel woes of one and all, as well as spare many a hapless viewer from having to run desperately from one venue to the other to catch successive shows. Even with a multiplex, there would need to be more than one venue given the increasing number of films screen each year (this year we had nine screens).

The reasons for the ambitious plans for a permanent venue getting scuppered are many. The Tagore Theatre is a venue for many a cultural event, the most famous being the Soorya Arts Festival - Asia's largest cultural event. So there was a lot of resistance in converting the historic venue to a multiplex, while the greens put paid to the proposal at Kanakakunnu. And of course, there is that reason which sinks most Government project, the pronounced lack of money to put where the mouth is!

The most feasible solution would be to design a BOT project for the same. A perfect locale will be the Tagore Theatre campus itself where there is sufficient space for a multiplex and mall. The multiplex/mall operator is given the land on lease and constructs and operates the facility with the condition that it will be made available for IFFK and other film events every year. This will convert the Tagore Theatre into a true world-class cultural complex. Plans had been floated in 2005 for creating such a facility but it had failed to take off due to stiff resistance from some of the city's cultural big-wigs. This is a win-win solution which will benefit the film industry as a whole and provide a world-class venue for a world-class film festival.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this idea.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Bon jour 2009

Happy New Year everyone!

The year has started off on a bright note, a lost ATM card and couple of dents on the car notwithstanding, with an article of mine getting published in this weekend's The Hindu Property Plus. It's about a concept that I have long been talking about, the Trivandrum IT Corridor.

You can find the full article here. Please go through it when you find the time; I will appreciate feedback from all of you. Based on that we can go ahead and submit it as a full-blown proposal to the Government.