It was touted as a sprawling township dotted with parks, playgrounds and waterbodies.
Instead, the vast expanse of land is dotted with multi-storeyed buildings and highrises. On the flat plains of Rajarhat, stretching across 3,075 hectares, trees are conspicuous by their absence.
With the first residents about to move into Action Area I, the top-billed New Town has already begun to resemble a concrete jungle.
With its focus on constructing buildings and roads, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's government has not done much about greening Rajarhat.
'We're very disheartened to see the lack of greenery in the township. Maybe it's too early to regret coming here, but there are too many multistoreyed complexes here for my liking,' said Pradip Dhar, secretary of Anamika Housing in Phase I, who is about to move into his new home.
The original plan for New Town, however, envisaged an extensive afforestation programme, including tree plantation, green belts and roadside gardens across the township.
The Rs 35-lakh project for planting 2,000 trees of 68 species in Action Area I was drawn up by the forest department's social forestry wing.
Flowering and evergreen trees of 68 species, like Krishnachura and Radhachura, varieties of Cassia, Ashok, Jacaranda, teak and rosewood, were to have dotted this zone.
In January 2004, another project for planting trees on the median strip and on both sides of the eight-lane arterial road connecting the township to the airport was taken up.
This time, the forest department planned landscaped gardens on the boulevards, interspersed with sculptures, for a six km stretch starting from the airport. The project never took off.
'Tree plantation in Rajarhat is three years behind schedule. If the trees are planted this monsoon, we might have the township's first grown trees three years from now. If not, the town will look worse and greyer than Calcutta,' admitted a senior official of the forest department.
Saddled with a nursery in New Town, which came up in 2002 to facilitate the greening exercise, the forest department now wants to close it down.